What is Positivism? Positivism

What is Positivism? Positivism

June 29, 2021 Off By Felso

Positivism is a philosophy movement that is based on modern science and rejects all kinds of non-scientific speculation. The view that the information supported by the facts or based on the data about the facts is the only solid type of knowledge is also called positivism.

According to positivism, we can only know the external world through “sense experiment”. What is important for human beings is to investigate and reveal the phenomena that we can observe with this sense experiment and the constant relations that exist between these phenomena. In this context, we can say that for positivism, reason is responsible for finding the working laws of nature.

In general, positivism emphasizes that “scientific knowledge” in the broadest sense is sound knowledge about phenomena that can be tested. Apart from that, most positivists accept the existence of such types of knowledge as logic and mathematics; but they claim that they are without content. The most basic feature of positivists is that they oppose traditional philosophical views by characterizing them as “metaphysics” with a negative meaning load.


The first person to use the term positivism is Sociologist Saint Simon. The person who developed and systematized this understanding is Sociologist Auguste Comte. The main purpose of Comte is to give a new shape and a new direction to society by examining social events with scientific regulations. For this, he established sociology as a science. He tried to apply the methods of physics and mathematics to sociology. In this respect, positivism is a type of empiricist philosophy.

Comte believes that it is possible to know the world of facts correctly with the method of physics. Knowledge of facts does not give the essence and true cause of events. But it gives the laws that govern things. With these laws, we make predictions about the future.

According to Comte, science should be based on facts. Metaphysics, which has arisen from the abstractions of the human mind, is outside our field of experience and therefore our knowledge, and the objects themselves cannot be known.

According to Comte, each stage in the three-stage mental development of human history has been more advanced and developed than the previous one.

Humanity is a religious stage in which explanations are made according to supernatural migrations at the beginning. In the metaphysical stage that follows, explanations are based on some concepts that are far from facts. In the third stage, people learn to base the facts they want to explain on the data they obtain from these facts, as true knowledge requires; this last one is the positive stage where positivism prevails.

Comte likens this process to a person’s transitional stages from childhood to adulthood.

The process that started with the Renaissance and continued with the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century revealed the positivism movement in the 19th century. In this age, man has been freed from stereotypes and the way to the liberation of the mind has been opened.

Positivism or Positivism is historically a result of the Enlightenment in Europe and important developments in the New Age sciences.

Sociologist Saint Simon was the first to use the term positivism.

In positivism, there is an understanding of science that does not include theology and metaphysics, but is based only on the realities of the physical or material world.

Positivism is the idea put forward by Auguste Comte in the 19th century. Logical positivism was established by the Vienna Circle in 1920.

Structural anthropologists Edmund Leach defined positivism in his 1966 Henry Myers lectures:

“Positivism is the view that says that serious scientific inquiry should be limited to relationships between facts that do not seek final causes from an external source but are open to direct observation. Positivism is also the name of a view of law called legal positivism. It suggests that legal systems can be defined independently by evolutionary means, contrary to the laws of nature “Legal positivism is sometimes understood to mean that laws must be obeyed regardless of their content. Carlos Nino divided the first of these two understandings as ‘methodological’ and the second as ‘ideological’, and argued that only the first one is philosophically defensible.”


According to the French thinker Auguste Comte (1798-1857), science should be based on facts. Metaphysics born from the abstractions of the human mind; it is outside our field of experimentation and knowledge; objects themselves (origin, cause, actual structure, essence) cannot be known either.

In the space between this unreality and this unknowability, science can only deal with phenomena that are the subject of experiments and observations that we perceive with our senses. In other words, the phenomena happening before our eyes can be explained neither by spirit nor by matter; they can only be explained by other facts.

According to positivism, we can only know the external world through sense experience.

The sciences remained positive to the extent that they were simple. As a matter of fact, mathematics, which is the simplest of the sciences, has survived in its first form for centuries, and “no sensible person has come out to beg God to make three times three ten.” Against this, astronomy, due to its complexity, has gone through all three states. Sociology, the most complex science, has not yet reached the metaphysical age.