from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A doctrine contending that sense perceptions are the only admissible basis of human knowledge and precise thought.
  • noun The application of this doctrine in logic, epistemology, and ethics.
  • noun The system of Auguste Comte designed to supersede theology and metaphysics and depending on a hierarchy of the sciences, beginning with mathematics and culminating in sociology.
  • noun Any of several doctrines or viewpoints, often similar to Comte's, that stress attention to actual practice over consideration of what is ideal.
  • noun The state or quality of being positive.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Actual or absolute knowledge.
  • noun [capitalized] The Positive philosophy (which see, under positive).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A system of philosophy originated by M. Auguste Comte, which deals only with positives. It excludes from philosophy everything but the natural phenomena or properties of knowable things, together with their invariable relations of coexistence and succession, as occurring in time and space. Such relations are denominated laws, which are to be discovered by observation, experiment, and comparison. This philosophy holds all inquiry into causes, both efficient and final, to be useless and unprofitable.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun philosophy A doctrine that states that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can only come from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific method, refusing every form of metaphysics.
  • noun Practical spirit, sense of reality, concreteness.
  • noun law A school of thought in jurisprudence in which the law is seen as separated from moral values, i.e. the law is posited by lawmakers (humans).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a quality or state characterized by certainty or acceptance or affirmation and dogmatic assertiveness
  • noun the form of empiricism that bases all knowledge on perceptual experience (not on intuition or revelation)


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French positivisme, from positif ("positive").


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  • But this positivism is a dead-end: The same impulse of stripping away conceit characterized modern architecture.

    The Dangers of Architectural Positivism 2009

  • In other words, false positivism is easy, but it is a lie.

    Optimism Rocks! – Grasping for the Wind 2005

  • a small set of men, some of whom are possessed of great ability and have accomplished much, but as a religion in any adequate sense of the word positivism will be admitted a failure by its most sincere adherents.

    Feuerbach: The roots of the socialist philosophy Friedrich Engels 1857

  • Yes, I’d say logical positivism is the closest thing to what I agree with.

    Think Progress » Fox Thinks Winter Chill Disproves Global Warming; Experts Disagree 2010

  • In this sense also it is good for me to read chaps like Thomas Hardy who draw all the wrong conclusions and yet write good poetry while coming under the influence of a certain positivism (now who was I reading that was mentioning that sort of thing?

    An Update « Unknowing 2010

  • Otherwise it seems you end up in logical positivism, which is relf-refuting.

    So, is it over? - The Panda's Thumb 2005

  • Otherwise it seems you end up in logical positivism, which is self-refuting.

    So, is it over? - The Panda's Thumb 2005

  • Meanwhile Saint-Simon's secretary, Auguste Comte (1798–1857), developed his scientific thought and founded the philosophy known as positivism (Cours de philosophie positive, six volumes, 1830–42; Système de politique positive, four volumes, 1851–54).

    2. Intellectual and Religious Trends 2001

  • The naive faith that they are a single thing, and the only way to truth, is an ideology that used to be called positivism and is now called scientism.

    Fraud and Science Feyerabend, Paul 1984

  • But this stringency, which is called positivism when the conditions of welfare are understood, becomes fanaticism when they are misrepresented.

    The Life of Reason George Santayana 1907


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