Definition of Positivism
(noun) The doctrine that society is ordered and can be empirically understood and measured; that empirical knowledge gained through science is the best method to understand the world and all metaphysical explanations should be dismissed.
Etymology of Positivism
- Coined by Auguste Comte (1798–1857) who also coined the term sociology (originally called social physics).
- American English – /pAHz-uh-ti-viz-uhm/
- British English – /pOz-i-ti-vi-zuhm/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈpɑzədəˌvɪz(ə)m/
- British English – /ˈpɒzᵻtᵻvɪz(ə)m/
- Positivism was an attempt by Comte to study society scientifically.
- Positivists use the hypthetico-deductive method and this stands in contrast to constructionism.
- The basic assumption of positivism is that science can provide a framework through empirical observation to understand society. Postmodernism challenges this basic assumption of positivism.
- Positivism is the opposite of antipositivism.
- A type of reductionism.
- Also called logical positivism.
- A (noun) positivist eschews metaphysical explanations to create a (adjective) positivistic or (adjective) positivistical conclusions (adverb) positivistically.
- “Postmodernists are deeply distrustful of science and the principle of objectivity, arguing that scientific knowledge is as much a product of socially determined interests and biases of investigators as it is of facts, which themselves are products of social processes. In addition, postmodernists point out that scientific knowledge has failed to solve social problems or prevent war and genocide” (Hughes and Kroehler 2008:17).
- Word origin of “positivism” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
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Cite the Definition of Positivism
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “positivism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 5, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/positivism/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
positivism. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/positivism/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “positivism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/positivism/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“positivism.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 5 Jun. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/positivism/>.