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Either of two closely related philosophical doctrines, one pertaining to concepts and the other to knowledge. The first doctrine is that most, if not all, concepts are ultimately derived from experience; the second is that most, if not all, knowledge derives from experience, in the sense that appeals to experience are necessarily involved in its justification. Neither doctrine implies the other. Several empiricists have allowed that some knowledge is a priori, or independent of experience, but have denied that any concepts are. On the other hand, few if any empiricists have denied the existence of a priori knowledge while maintaining the existence of a priori concepts. John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume are classical representatives of empiricism. See alsoFrancis Bacon.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on empiricism, visit Britannica.com.