Empiricism is a philosophy of science which claims that knowledge is created by a process involving observation and that scientific theory are the result of generalizations from such observations. Empiricism generally encompass inductivism.

Empiricism has stood in contrast to rationalism, the position originally associated with Descartes, which holds that knowledge is created by the human intellect, not by observation.


1   Approach

Empiricism relies on evidence. Unlike rationalism, it goes from what is familiar to first principles, rather than from first principles to more truth.

2   Classification

2.1   Positivism

Positivism is a philosophy of science based on the view that information derived from logical and mathematical treatments and reports of sensory experience is the exclusive source of all authoritative knowledge.

The opposite of positivism is anti-positivism.

Introspective and intuitive knowledge is rejected.

Statements that cannot be falsified are considered not meaningful to empiricism. For example:

  • Does reality exist?
  • Does language shape thought?