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Any philosophical system that confines itself to the data of experience, excludes a priori or metaphysical speculations, and emphasizes the achievements of science. Positivism is closely connected with empiricism, pragmatism, and logical positivism. More narrowly, the term designates the philosophy of Auguste Comte, who held that human thought had passed inevitably through a theological stage into a metaphysical stage and was passing into a positive, or scientific, stage. Believing that the religious impulse would survive the decay of revealed religion, he projected a worship of mankind, with churches, calendar, and hierarchy.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on positivism, visit Britannica.com.