Why are the theories we believe called facts and the facts we disbelieve called theories? Theory has always been the utmost important aspect of the introduction of tentative knowledge. Arguably, the system of provisional knowledge intended to explain and describe the existence of possible phenomena, thus aiding our understanding of the world through relationships, concepts and logic. Firstly, it is vital that we recognize that scientific theory is established by repeated observations and it seeks to diagnose why something occurs. Whereas, a humanistic theory involves speculations attempting to explain how a situation has occurred. A theory is often constructed by different perspectives; hence limitations will always exist. In that sense, a “perfect theory” doesn’t exist.
Limitations provide a finite and incomprehensive view of the phenomenon. Such hypothetical assumptions are designed to gain a greater degree of understanding of our world: the earth, people and places. While considering this inquiry we are also concerned whether a multiplicity of theories will allow us to gain a better understanding of certain conspiracies involving people and what makes up our world and how multiplicity of theories may allow us to understand our world more in-depth yet unable to furnish an absolute answer. Moreover, the reliability of a theory can be self-justified and many theories involving the past may contain lost knowledge, causing us to be unable to determine its certainty.
To discuss whether a multiplicity of theories can allow us to gain a better understanding of the world; History and Human Science; Geography and Psychology will be taken into consideration. A theory, could possibly arise due to intuition, imagination and reasoning. Withal, while arguing that retaining multiplicity of knowledge cannot help aid our understanding of the world, I will also explore the circumstances in which this argument unviable.
Intuition is an individual’s way of obtaining knowledge, offering explicit and implicit insight without cognizant thought. In the realm of History, most arguments and theories are formed by rational reasoning. Examining Malaysian Airline flight 370 which disappeared in 2014, the official statement from the Malaysian Government indicated that the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean, however many disbelieved this as floating debris would appear on the ocean surface if it was true. Among other theories related to the case stands a report that claimed the captain, Zaharie Shah, was “clinically depressed”. While he tries to escape his former life through “acquiring 2 stolen passports” and “packing his flight kit with extra warm clothes, a bright waterproof torch, a whistle and a parachute” (David Shrubb). This theory outlined that the first officer was locked out of the flight deck by Shah, followed by switching off the communication channel between MH370 and air-traffic controllers. Ultimately, he donned an oxygen mask and depressurized the aircraft. Moreover, both of the previously stated theories contained certain extents of limitations as they are composed by uncertain assumptions without supporting evidence that can strengthen the claims. Hence, despite having a multiplicity of theories we haven’t been able to understand the tragedy itself. In fact, we become increasingly bewildered with the roots of the incident. In order for multiple theories to be able to diagnose the truth in the realm of History, it is vital to obtain a sustained amount of empirical evidence.
In the light of shared knowledge within the field of Psychology which relates to human behavior, actions are continuously catalyzed or stimulated by an individual’s desire to attain objectives. Abraham Maslow, a renowned psychologist, demonstrated in his theory the needs of human beings, our satisfactions and the urge to fulfill desires. The order of needs are hierarchical and are the foremost significant factor in motivation. Despite this, his theory is heavily limited as it is impotent to be validated empirically due to the absence of measuring “how satisfied one level of need must be before the next higher need becomes operative” (KS Rao Kunchala 100). In contrast, Frederick Herzberg, a behavioral scientist, countered Maslow’s assumptions with his two-factor theory based on motivation. Herzberg discussed the concept of job enrichment and the ways in which motivation is correlated with rewards and incentives. In other words, he argued that achievements, recognition, personal growth are the key parameters for motivation. However, his theory completely ignored blue collar workers and overlooked situational variables, where satisfaction is achieved, but productivity may be worse off.
Furthermore, both theories are derived from a marginally varied area. The multiplicity of theories is vital in establishing a higher comprehensive view of motivation, allowing us to better understand the world in the aspect of “people”. Though both theories have different purposes, uncertainties and rationales, they work collaboratively seeking to explain what motivates people. We can conclude that both theories have aided our understanding that motivation is sourced from the presence of energized behavior. Thus to achieve satisfaction one must first satisfy the secondary level needs for the maintenance of the current state. Consequently, despite one theory contains limitations, it has sufficiently aided our understanding of what may motivate an individual. Herzberg’s counter theory only serves to further our understanding of human motivation and our understanding of ‘people’ as we have the ability of sharing similar experiences by imagining in the motivational parameters that the psychologist has outlined. Lastly, both theories are not interdependent, on one side retaining multiplicity of knowledge can aid our understanding, but on the other side when one theory is proven valid it is already enough in aiding our understanding.
It is argued that no matter how accurate a historical theory may be, it can still contain certain limitations, since knowledge and evidence originated a long time ago may have been lost. For decades, archaeologists have been perplexed by the existence of Stonehenge. Some suspected it was a monument for burial as bone fragments were collected from the site and the remanence of unearthed charred in holes which surrounded the Aubrey Holes have been discovered. The knowledge was reasoned from the discovery of Bronze Age burial mounds, also called Tumuli, around a 2-mile perimeter of Stonehenge. While others contradicted that Stonehenge was designed to be a place for healing, as argued by Geoff Wainwright who suggested that “the monument was a site of pilgrimage” (Stonehenge Guide). To their school of thought, the discovery of the bluestones at Stonehenge were decisive pointers that the site was owed to the healing powers regarding its proximity to the traditional healing springs. And the experimentation on the bluestones have been factually identified as igneous rocks sourced from a hill named “Carn Goedog”. The unique structure of the rocks can form natural pillars, allowing the prehistoric quarry workers to obtain each standing stone by “inserting wooden wedges between pillars and let the rain to swell the wood hence each easing each pillar of the rock face’ (Josh Pollard).
Unlike the Malaysian airline example, here, both theories contain little limitation as their arguments are derived from factual evidence. However, despite the overwhelming abutment established by 2 different individuals and that historical theories are non interdependent nor incompatible, a limitation will be engendered where one will encounter an inner-conflict of which to believe. Therefore, even if we retained a multiplicity of humanistic theories, it is still invalid to further our understanding on its existence. Furthermore, historical interpretations are purely based on memory, and acquiring memory can hardly be perfect due to our human nature: our brains only subconsciously grasp on knowledge of significance that we encountered and ultimately, we rely on “filling the blanks”.
The fundamental discrepancy between believing and disbelieving Human Science is often derived from an individual himself. Human Science is a collection of vital theories for our understanding of the world; most recently global warming in the subject of Geography. The pressing issue, which some may dispute as a “conspiracy” of increasing temperatures and melting glaciers has already projected many voices. Some disbelieve the “theory” of climate change, because they simply distrust science. The role of an individual’s faith highlights those in fringe religious groups and Sigmund Freud a chroniclers of denial has described this phenomenon as an “active mental process and a procedure of absorbing cognizance of what is repressed” (Bargh and Morsella). Therefore, this is what primarily distinguishes their denial from sheer disbelief, thus the existence of climate change is heavily contradicted with an individual’s existence values on both personal and shared knowledge. Ergo, the limitation within this theory doesn’t exist within itself, instead it is derived from an individual’s perspective. Particularly those only believe in what they feel and or observe. In this manner, some may disbelieve climate change as their geographical location varies from others. Mongolia, for instance, remains at low temperatures all year, hence some locals may distrust what others argue to be a ‘factual’ theory. Therefore, the retainment of a multiplicity of theories may struggle to aid our understanding to the world as faith and environment varies between individuals.
Thomas Kuhn once said, ‘We see the world in terms of our theories’. In History, some argue one theory is a fact while the others may say its an abstraction. Historical theories are incompatible and can hardly be mutually balanced as they often suffer from lost evidence. Retaining a multiplicity of theories is viable in aiding our understanding of the world, but will only be better served in the realm of Geography and Psychology. Given that, those theories centre its tendency on faith where one can unconsciously believe and rely on imagination, hence perchance may supplement our understanding of the world. Ultimately, we shall agree that “the world is more complicated than most of our theories make it out to be” (Edmund Berkeley).