Positivism is a philosophical theory stating that positive knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations. Thus, information derived from sensory experience, interpreted through reason and logic, forms the exclusive source of all authoritative knowledge. Positivism holds that valid knowledge (certitude or truth) is found only in this derived knowledge. Verified data (positive facts) received from the senses are known as empirical evidence; thus positivism is based on empiricism. Positivism also holds that society, like the physical world, operates according to general laws. Introspective and intuitive knowledge is rejected, as is metaphysics and theology. Although the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of western thought, the modern sense of the approach was formulated by the philosopher Auguste Comte in the early 19th century. Comte argued that, much as the physical world operates according to gravity and other absolute laws, so does society, and...
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