Although the terms positivism and logical positivism are often used interchangeably, they are not quite the same. The French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798–1857) coined the term positivism to describe the philosophy presented in his six-volume opus Cours de Philosophie Positive, published between 1830 and 1842. Two of the many ideas argued in this work are the source of popular conceptions of positivism: first, that a “scientific” form of knowledge is the most advanced form of knowledge. Comte argued that all branches of knowledge inevitably pass through three different “theoretical states”—“the theological or fictitious state, the metaphysical or abstract state, and the scientific or positive state.” Second, Comte advocated a strict form of empiricism that was both antirealist and instrumentalist.

Thomas A.Schwandt

Further Reading

Hollis, M.(1994)The philosophy of social ...
  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles