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Which clippings match 'Direct Experience' keyword pg.1 of 1
12 JUNE 2014

Interpreting the theory-practice relationship

"Theory provides ways of interpreting practical knowledge. Practical knowledge–the basis of our ability to perform successfully as participants in a social practice–is largely tacit and unconscious (Schön, 1983). Imagine trying to explain to someone everything you know that enables you to carry on a successful conversation with another person. Although you might come up with a few general rules (use eye contact, listen, be relevant), no amount of explanation could more than scratch the surface of the complex habits, skills, background information, and situational awareness that even a simple conversation requires, much of which cannot be articulated verbally. As every novice user of cookbooks or computer manuals knows, even the most explicit instructions can be useless to someone who lacks the skills and background knowledge required to follow them. No theory can tell us every– thing–or, in a sense, anything–we need to know to participate in a practical activity. Practical knowledge comes only with the accumulation of direct experience.

Is theory, therefore, useless? The largely tacit nature of practical knowledge does limit the role of theory to some extent; however, it does not warrant the extreme conclusion that theory and practice are unrelated (see Craig, 1996a, in reply to Sandelands, 1990). Theory contributes to 'discursive consciousness' (Giddens, 1984), our conscious awareness of social practices and ability to discuss them knowledgeably. Discursive consciousness enables activities such as reflection, criticism, and explicit planning, thereby shaping practical conduct. A theory of a practice provides a particular way of interpreting practical knowledge, a way of focusing attention on important details of a situation and weaving them into a web of concepts that can give the experience a new layer of meaning, reveal previously unnoticed connections, and suggest new lines of action. Classroom communication, for example, can be discussed in terms of information processing, group dynamics, or ritual, among other theories. Each theory illuminates a different aspect of the situation and suggests a different approach to practical problems."

(Robert Craig, 2006)


2006Anthony Giddens • background knowledge • classroom communication • communication theory • computer manual • connectionsconscious awarenessconversationcookbookcritical reflectioncriticismdirect experience • discursive consciousness • Donald Schon • explicit instructions • explicit planning • focusing attention • general rules • group dynamics • important details • information processing • interpreting practical knowledge • lines of action • Lloyd Sandelands • practical activity • practical conduct • practical knowledge • practical problems • ritual • Robert Craig • social practicestacit knowledgetheorytheory and practice • theory of practice • unconscious understanding • web of concepts


Simon Perkins
29 NOVEMBER 2012

Psychical Distance: characters and situations in drama are unreal

"One of the best known examples is to be found in our attitude towards the events and characters of the drama; they appeal to us like persons and incidents of normal experience, except that that side of their appeal, which would usually affect us in a directly personal manner, is held in abeyance. This difference, so well known as to be almost trivial, is generally explained by reference to the knowledge that the characters and situations are 'unreal,' imaginary. In this sense Witasek, oeprating with Meinong's theory of Annahem, has described the emotions involved in witnessing a drama as Scheingefuhle, a term which has so frequently been misunderstood in discussions of his theories. But, as a matter of fact, the 'assumption' upon which the imaginative emotional reaction is based is not necessarily the condition, but often the consequence, of distance; that is to say, the converse of the reason usually stated would then be true: viz. That distance, by changing our relation to the characters, renders them seemingly fictitious, not that the fictitiousness of the characters alters our feelings toward them. It is, of course, to be granted that the actual and admitted unreality of the dramatic action reinforces the effect of Distance. But surely the proverbial unsophisticated yokel whose chivalrous interference in the play on behalf of the hapless heroine can only be prevented by impressing upon him that 'they are only pretending,' is not the ideal type of theatrical audience. The proof of the seeming paradox that it is Distance which primarily gives to dramatic action the appearance of unreliability and not vice versa, is the observation that the same filtration of our sentiments and the same seeming 'unreality' of actual men and things occur, when at times, by a sudden change of inward perspective, we are overcome by the feeling that 'all the world's a stage.'"

(Edward Bullough, 1912)

Edward Bullough (1912). "Psychical Distance" British Journal of Psychology, Vol. 5, pp. 87–117 (excerpt cited by Julie Van Camp, 22 November 2006).

Fig.1 Patricia Piccinini/Drome Pty Ltd. (2010) []



1912aesthetics • Alexius Meinong • all the worlds a stage • Annahem • appeal • appearance of unreliability • audiencebelievabilitybreaking the fourth wallchanging our relationcharactersdirect experience • distance • distanced viewpointdrama • dramatic action • dramatic space • Edward Bullough • emotionemotional immersionemotional involvementempathyfeelings • fictitious • fictitiousnessheld in abeyanceimaginary • imaginative emotional reaction • normal experience • only pretending • our sentiments • pathospersonalpropinquitypsychical distancepsychological closeness • psychological proximity • Scheingefuhle • Stephan Witasek • suspension of disbelief • theatrical audience • unreal • unreal characters • unreal situations • unreality • verisimilitude • witnessing • yoke


Simon Perkins
01 DECEMBER 2008

E.M. Forster's The Machine Stops

"The story describes a world in which almost all humans have lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth, and most of the human population lives below ground. Each individual lives in isolation in a standard 'cell', with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Travel is permitted but unpopular and rarely necessary. The entire population communicates through a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine called the speaking apparatus, with which they conduct their only activity, the sharing of ideas and knowledge with each other.
Clearly, even in 1909 Forster was deeply concerned that Man was in danger of becoming unable to live without the technology that he created, and of forgetting that it was he who created it.

The story predicted several technological and social innovations, such as the 'cinemataphote' (television) and videoconferencing. Forster also sought to establish the value of direct experience, which is threatened by excessive involvement in virtual communities. This shows remarkable foresight, and the book describes many nuances of "online life" over 70 years before the Internet was even invented."
(Jacques de Beaufort)



Simon Perkins

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