Sometimes it causes me unease when I hear someone proudly claiming himself to be “a practical person”. It sounds as if there is little use in contemplating on theories or the abstract. Yes, it is true that sometimes theory without practice yields disembodied intellectuals hiding in ivory towers disconnected from reality. Yet, practice without theory is also equally dangerous, easily becoming short-sighted, unreflective, and overly pragmatic without vision and depth.
Recently, I found a bible passage that hints an equal emphasis on both thinking and practice:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
It is only those who want to avoid the messy reality and force everything into vague principles and generalizations would ignore the practical implications that challenge their neat and tidy theories. It is only those who have failed to put in the hard work of conjoining the two worlds would insist in leaving the theory behind and only do what is practical.
Theory informs pratice; practice informs theory. They are inseparable twins. There shouldn’t be a dichotomy between the two.