Share this entry

Share this page


Line breaks: em¦piri|cism
Pronunciation: /ɛmˈpɪrɪsɪz(ə)m

Definition of empiricism in English:


[mass noun] Philosophy
The theory that all knowledge is based on experience derived from the senses. Stimulated by the rise of experimental science, it developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, expounded in particular by John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. Compare with phenomenalism.
Example sentences
  • Fernow played up a widely accepted historical dichotomy between European theory and British empiricism in science.
  • There were errors of interpretation in feminists' critiques, for example, concerning the extent to which analytic philosophy incorporated empiricism.
  • Yet habit is the linchpin for the philosophical way of thinking that James called radical empiricism, and later pragmatism.



noun& adjective
Example sentences
  • In this, as in much else, he was followed by generations of empiricist philosophers.
  • The constructive empiricist position is that empirical adequacy suffices for the purpose of science.
  • For the Stoics were thorough-going empiricists and believed that sense-impressions lie at the foundation of all of our knowledge.

Definition of empiricism in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day Sprachgefühl
Pronunciation: ˈʃprɑːxɡəˌfuːl
intuitive understanding of a language’s natural idiom…