Definition of positivism in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpäzədivˌizəm/


1A philosophical system that holds that every rationally justifiable assertion can be scientifically verified or is capable of logical or mathematical proof, and that therefore rejects metaphysics and theism.
From French positivisme, coined by the French philosopher Auguste Comte, Auguste
Example sentences
  • In fact, the branch that he refers to as econ-art can be seen as following the recognised scientific methodology of positivism.
  • It relies on a rudimentary and thus unstated metaphysics, in much the same way as empiricism and positivism.
  • This approach is a close cousin of the pre-war philosophical movement called positivism, which argues that in our investigation of the world we only encounter particular instances, never universals.
1.1A humanistic religious system founded on this.
Example sentences
  • In other words, when sociology competes as its own form of positivism against religion, it reveals itself as a kind of ‘faith.’
  • As he himself grew older, Comte's efforts to create a culture based on science became intense and eccentric, his worship of humanity increasingly mystical and arcane, his positivism more and more like a religion without God.
  • I see them as often playing a symbolic role in theology's emergence from the ‘founding trauma’ of positivism.
1.2 another term for logical positivism.
2The theory that laws are to be understood as social rules, valid because they are enacted by authority or derive logically from existing decisions, and that ideal or moral considerations (e.g., that a rule is unjust) should not limit the scope or operation of the law.
Example sentences
  • Legal positivism is a conceptual theory emphasizing the conventional nature of law.
  • Legal positivism does not deny that moral and political criticism of legal systems are important, but insists that a descriptive or conceptual approach to law is valuable, both on its own terms and as a necessary prelude to criticism.
  • All too often we see positivism written about as if it is a substantive theory (and a purely biological one at that) of human behavior, which it is not.



Pronunciation: /ˈpäzədiˌvist/
noun& adjective
Example sentences
  • In particular, his ‘mentalism’, that beliefs about one's own current mental state are epistemologically basic, went essentially unchallenged by the empiricists and positivists, until this century.
  • Heidegger doesn't even differ from the empiricists and positivists in thinking that it was the wrong idea.
  • I don't think I am doing him an injustice if I say that epistemologically he was essentially a logicist and positivist.


Pronunciation: /ˌpäzədəˈvistik/
Example sentences
  • Some philosophers and philosophically-minded physicists may have been misled on this score by their allegiance to an excessively positivistic epistemology of science.
  • The numerous advocates of Comte's positivistic philosophy understood mathematics and physics as the source of rigorous laws and consequently the foundation on which other disciplines might be based.
  • This interpretation implies that irrationalism is blamed on the dark side of the positivistic Enlightenment, rather than arguing that German fascism arises out of lebensphilosophie as the other of reason.


Pronunciation: /ˌpäzətəˈvistik(ə)lē/

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pos·i·tiv·ism

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