Difference Between Concept and Theory

Concept vs Theory

Concept and theory are two terms that one encounters quite often in the scientific jargon. As similar as they may sound, it must be understood that the two terms, concept and theory, are used in different contexts to signify different aspects which indeed aids in recognizing the true definitions of concept and theory.

What is a Concept?

A concept is a term that is often used in metaphysics, especially in ontology that can be defined as a fundamental category of existence. It is a group of abstract ideas put together in order to describe a phenomenon. However, in philosophy, there exists three ways of defining a concept.

• Mental representations – concepts as a subset of mental representations made from the physical material of the brain that allows the human beings to draw inferences about things that they encounter in day to day life. According to the physicalist theory of mind, the brain uses concepts for processes such as decision making, categorization, learning, inference and memory.

• Abilities – concepts as abilities that are peculiar to cognitive agents.

• Abstract objects – this debate concerning the ontological status of concepts is based upon a Platonist theory of mind recognizes concepts as aspects that mediate between language, referents and thought.

There are also several prominent theories on the structure of concepts such as classical theory, prototype theory and theory-theory.

What is Theory?

Theory can be defined as a collection of ideas, facts, phenomena or events that can be used to explain a certain topic. When developing a theory, it is necessary to use the rational and contemplative forms of generalized and abstract thinking while a theory is based upon general factors that are independent of the phenomenon being explained. A theory provides an explanation for observations and based upon the various assumptions of this explanation, several possible hypotheses can be derived in order to test the theory. A person who develops theories is known as a theorist.

In the modern sense of the word, theory refers to scientific theories which stand for a comprehensive explanation of a nature that fulfils modern scientific criteria while being consistent with the scientific method.

What is the difference between Concept and Theory?

Concept and theory are two terms that seem quite similar in nature and because of this apparent similarity, it is sometimes quite difficult to discern one from the other. In a precise study such as science, one cannot afford to make mistakes such as this.

• A concept is an abstract notion. A theory is a collection of explanations about a particular subject.

• A concept needs not be tested. The main component of a theory is that it must be able to be tested and proved or disapproved.

• Concepts are prone to morph and change. Theories although not considered as facts, can be named as the best possible educated guess surrounding a certain phenomenon.

• A concept is a general idea. A theory is an explanation that is supported by significant evidence. A concept does not have such evidence backing it.

• A concept can be unorganized. A theory must be organized.

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