Modes of Theory – Satish Deshpande and Gopal Guru

Why don’t we simply call what you already possess, your empirical evidence, theory? What are the operations that are needed, to turn what you possess already to be given the label of theory? Are we saying that it is a case of labeling where whatever is able to produce a set of effects is retrospectively seen as theory? Or if we look at it as a functional definition, as long as we have control over it, and have agency in regard to that piece of theory, no matter where it is from, then what is the problem? I can understand the lack of agency or lack of voice as being problematic, but if we are talking about theory as a tool, an instrument, then why does authorship matter, since there is ownership?

Satish Deshpande

Doing theory and practising theory are two different things. For doing theory I must have certain methodological  universal, and epistemological protocols. Many people feel bound by this, because it becomes a form of gate-keeping.

Say I already have an experience, which is proto-theory in a way. To make sense of that experience, I have to distance myself and reflect upon it. But to convert it into a theory, I need to translate my understanding of my experience into a language that can be understood by someone from a different context as well. My specific language produced by a specific context, may not be understandable for someone from somewhere else. Theory becomes intelligible to me only on the second level of expression. There should be a freedom to express my own experience on a theoretical level.

Authorship has to remain with those who experienced it; they should have ownership of it. The same experience is tantalising to the outsider (the creator of the theory), but is a tragic reality to the insider (who experiences it).

Gopal Guru

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