Meaning of positivism in English:


Pronunciation /ˈpɒzɪtɪvɪz(ə)m/

Translate positivism into Spanish


mass noun
  • 1Philosophy
    A philosophical system recognizing only that which can be scientifically verified or which is capable of logical or mathematical proof, and therefore rejecting metaphysics and theism.

    ‘In fact, the branch that he refers to as econ-art can be seen as following the recognised scientific methodology of positivism.’
    • ‘It relies on a rudimentary and thus unstated metaphysics, in much the same way as empiricism and positivism.’
    • ‘This approach is a close cousin of the pre-war philosophical movement called positivism, which argues that in our investigation of the world we only encounter particular instances, never universals.’
    • ‘Some see Galileo as a precursor of the philosophical empiricism of John Locke; others, of the positivism of Auguste Comte.’
    • ‘The neo-realists distilled the essence of realist thought and then laced it with a large dose of scientific positivism.’
    • ‘The book opens with a discussion of positivism and empiricism, positions which regrettably are still dominant within social and natural science.’
    1. 1.1A humanistic religious system founded on positivism.
      ‘In other words, when sociology competes as its own form of positivism against religion, it reveals itself as a kind of ‘faith.’’
      • ‘As he himself grew older, Comte's efforts to create a culture based on science became intense and eccentric, his worship of humanity increasingly mystical and arcane, his positivism more and more like a religion without God.’
      • ‘I see them as often playing a symbolic role in theology's emergence from the ‘founding trauma’ of positivism.’
      • ‘Comte conceived the mission of positivism as the establishment of a Religion of Humanity that would anneal the social divisions tearing the world of the Industrial Revolution apart.’
    2. 1.2
      another term for logical positivism
  • 2The theory that laws and their operation derive validity from the fact of having been enacted by authority or of deriving logically from existing decisions, rather than from any moral considerations (e.g. that a rule is unjust).

    ‘Legal positivism is a conceptual theory emphasizing the conventional nature of law.’
    • ‘Legal positivism does not deny that moral and political criticism of legal systems are important, but insists that a descriptive or conceptual approach to law is valuable, both on its own terms and as a necessary prelude to criticism.’
    • ‘All too often we see positivism written about as if it is a substantive theory (and a purely biological one at that) of human behavior, which it is not.’
    • ‘Whereas positivism asks what are the facts, constructivism asks what are the assumptions; whereas positivism asks what are the answers, constructivism asks what are the questions.’
    • ‘Between these two theories of law, legal positivism is the more persuasive legal theory for many people.’


Mid 19th century (in sense ‘positiveness, certainty’): from positive + -ism; in positivism (sense 1) after French positivisme, coined by the philosopher Auguste Comte.