pos·​i·​tiv·​ism | \ ˈpä-zə-ti-ˌvi-zəm How to pronounce positivism (audio) , ˈpäz-ti- \

Definition of positivism

1a : a theory that theology and metaphysics are earlier imperfect modes of knowledge and that positive knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations as verified by the empirical sciences
2 : the quality or state of being positive

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Other Words from positivism

positivist \ ˈpä-​zə-​ti-​vist How to pronounce positivism (audio) , ˈpäz-​ti-​ \ adjective or noun
positivistic \ ˌpä-​zə-​ti-​ˈvi-​stik How to pronounce positivism (audio) , ˌpäz-​ti-​ \ adjective
positivistically \ ˌpä-​zə-​ti-​ˈvi-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce positivism (audio) , ˌpäz-​ti-​ \ adverb

Examples of positivism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Legal positivism depicts law as a set of rules determined by factual description of existing laws and institutions, without reference to normative moral arguments about what the law should be. Noah Feldman, The New York Review of Books, "The Battle Over Scalia’s Legacy," 1 Dec. 2020 Scalia’s legal approach adheres closely to the theory of legal positivism, which in its modern form goes back to the English philosopher John Austin (1790–1859). Noah Feldman, The New York Review of Books, "The Battle Over Scalia’s Legacy," 1 Dec. 2020 Nearly doubled up in yardage during a three-game skid, defensive end Cameron Sample and running back Stephon Huderson doubled down on positivism after Tulane’s 51-34 loss to Central Florida on Saturday. G Smith, NOLA.com, "Green Wave remains positive despite giving up nearly 1,800 yards in three-game skid," 25 Oct. 2020 And sometimes, as with the example of positivism, the work of professional philosophers actually stands in the way of progress. Quanta Magazine, "Science’s Path From Myth to Multiverse," 17 Mar. 2015 The senior management team at Kimpton fosters an energy of positivism around the head office that permeates down to all of our managers at our hotels and to all employees. Fortune, "Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants," 26 June 2018 At the root of society’s failures, though, are two ideological villains: positivism and market fundamentalism. Bruce Sterling, WIRED, "Historians, dabbling in science fiction, evoke a climate collapse," 8 Apr. 2013

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'positivism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of positivism

1842, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for positivism

French positivisme, from positif positive + -isme -ism

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Time Traveler for positivism

Time Traveler

The first known use of positivism was in 1842

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Cite this Entry

“Positivism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/positivism. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on positivism

Britannica English: Translation of positivism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about positivism

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