Webster 1913 Edition
theoria, Gr. [GREEK] a beholding, spectacle, contemplation, speculation, fr. [GREEK] a spectator, [GREEK] to see, view. See
A doctrine, or scheme of things, which terminates in speculation or contemplation, without a view to practice; hypothesis; speculation.
☞ “This word is employed by English writers in a very loose and improper sense. It is with them usually convertible into hypothesis, and hypothesis is commonly used as another term for conjecture. The terms theory and theoretical are properly used in opposition to the terms practice and practical. In this sense, they were exclusively employed by the ancients; and in this sense, they are almost exclusively employed by the Continental philosophers.”
Sir W. Hamilton.
An exposition of the general or abstract principles of any science;
The science, as distinguished from the art;
theoryand practice of medicine
The philosophical explanation of phenomena, either physical or moral;
theoryof combustion; Adam Smith's
theoryof moral sentiments.
Syn. – Hypothesis, speculation.
Webster 1828 Edition
1.Speculation; a doctrine or scheme of things, which terminates in speculation or contemplation, without a view to practice. It is here taken in an unfavorable sense, as implying something visionary.
2.An exposition of the general principles of any science; as the theory of music.
3.The science distinguished from the art; as the theory and practice of medicine.
4.The philosophical explanation of phenomena, either physical or moral; as Lavoisier's theory of combustion; Smith's theory of moral sentiments.
Theory is distinguished from hypothesis thus; a theory is founded on inferences drawn from principles which have been established on independent evidence; a hypothesis is a proposition assumed to account for certain phenomena, and has no other evidence of its truth, than that it affords a satisfactory explanation of those phenomena.