Auguste Comte discusses the prerequisite of theory for observations1:
The most important of these reasons arises from the necessity that always exists for some theory to which to refer our facts, combined with the clear impossibility that, at the outset of human knowledge, men could have formed theories out of the observation of facts. All good intellects have repeated, since Bacon’s time, that there can be no real knowledge but that which is based on observed facts. This is incontestable, in our present advanced stage; but, if we look back to the primitive stage of human knowledge, we shall see that it must have been otherwise then. If it is true that every theory must be based upon observed facts, it is equally true that facts cannot be observed without the guidance of some theory. Without such guidance, our facts would be desultory and fruitless; we could not retain them: for the most part we could not even perceive them.
Comte, Auguste. 1830. Chapter 1 - Account of the Aim of This Work – View of The Nature and Importance of the Positive Philosophy. In Course of Positive Philosophy. http://historyguide.org/intellect/comte_cpp.html, accessed May 6, 2020. ↩︎