Thursday, September 4, 2008

Positivism: Initial Thoughts

Let me begin with the definition of post-positivism or post-positivist.
  • A post-positivist is a positivist that has met his/her demise at the hands of a constructivist.
Each one will need to construct a meaning before proceeding.

Positivism is a child of its own age, being the aftermath of the French revolution and the Napoleanic era. Remember the book Anna and the King or the film, The King and I? Well the king of Siam was a positivists, at least he believed himself to be such. In simple terms, a positivist believes that science is the Messiah. In contrast, a constructivist believes that education is the messiah, a Marxist believes that revolution is the messiah, and a feminist believes that she is the messiah. Having lost all concept of religious faith in the enlightment, there arose a host of substitutes. It seems that mankind is incurably religious. Now back to positivism and Auguste Comte (pronounced Kont).

Comte was a disciple of Saint-Simon and coined the term sociology, but that may not be entirely so. Nevertheless, Comte may be called the father of sociology as a scientific discipline, or at least he wished that it would be considered such. Comte claimed three eras of epistemology and human development: theological, metaphysical, and positive (scientific). In actuality, the use of the word "science" to cover all disciplines was would not be used until late in the 19th century, prompted by a lecture in the Royal Academy. The basis of positivism was epistemological empiricism. (more to come)

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