A theory has content and form. The content of a theory is what a theory is about, as expressed in the declaration “every theory is an attempt to account for something that is said to exist”, or “a theory accounts for the action of something that is said to exist’. Thus a theory takes some generally accepted phenomenon, or phenomena, and attempts to demonstrate how these — what is said to be the case, the description of the phenomenon/phenomena or state of affairs — are determined by other factors.
Of course, the concept of “determined” is itself problematic, but covers issues which cannot be dealt with in this short note. I therefore propose to limit myself by looking at only one example of an observation for which an explanation has always been asked for, by the people in the rain-forests of the Amazon basin and those that live in the coldest north: the phenomenon of the stars in their firmament.
No one accepts that these points of light are just there, pasted onto a blackened sheet of papyrus! I suspect even Adam and Eve had questions about this awesome phenomenon, and since they had no knowledge about most things or so we have been told, their questions were presumably naïve and the answers which would satisfy them would also be naïve! Yet it would be reasonable to assume that answers could be framed specifically for them by using terms which stand a little above and beyond their naiveté!
In other words, we assume that any attempt to explain something involves a reference to other cases than those included in the original question. The effort must be directed to show that current question require an answer which refers to explanations that have been accepted for similar cases and which are, by all accounts, reasonably authenticated. This is not a circular argument, but a spiral one: one moves away from the familiar into a more abstract realm.
But what is missing from a circular account is that any explanation – no matter how naïve — refers to things which are beyond our current ken, and includes imaginary agents, events and forces. We have to assume that even Adam and Eve had this capacity to imagine the impalpable otherwise they could not have been seduced in the first place! Adam and Eve had to be able to imagine a superior world to the one they inhabited. “Oh brave new world that hath such creatures in it” (Shakespeare: The Tempest, Miranda, Act 5., Sc 2.)
Conclusion: Humans – in general – have an attribute (which is itself inferred) that allows them to envision, name and concretize matters or events beyond their individual sensory inputs and beyond what they already know.
In modern terms, through a bewildering variety of technical devices, we exotic creatures transform our perceptions in a more extravagant manner than any other living thing known to us. We then manufacture images, compositions, models, and other responses with an often unrecognizable assortments of characteristics. Furthermore we have, so far, failed to construct a reliable working model of our own activities that can accurately predict what we do, when and how we do these things and, above all, why.