Positivism and Post-empiricism.

Align left: The External [scientia]                   Align Right: The Internal [noumenon]


  1. Science conceptualized.
  2. Time transpires.
  3. Space idealized.
  4. Generations tire.
  5. New proofs abound,
  6. Over the internet wire.

“If I attempt to violate the law, it reacts against me so as to prevent my act before its accomplishment, or to nullify my violation by restoring the damage, if it is accomplished and reparable, or to make me expiate it if it cannot be compensated for otherwise.” Emile Durkheim 1895.

“In science there are no ‘depths’; there is surface everywhere: all experience forms a complex network, which cannot always be surveyed and can often be grasped only in parts.” Otto Neurath 1929.

“The scientific world-conception knows no unconditionally valid knowledge derived from pure reason, no ‘synthetic judgments a priori’ of the kind that lie at the basis on Kantian epistemology and even more of all pre- and post-Kantian ontology and metaphysics.” Otto Neurath 1929.

“We have characterized the scientific world-conception essentially by two features. First it is empiricist and positivist: there is knowledge only from experience, which rests on what is immediately given. Second, the scientific world-conception is marked by application of a certain method, mainly a logical analysis. The aim of scientific effort is to reach a goal, unified science, by applying logical analysis to the empirical material.” Otto Neurath 1929.

“A scientific description can contain only the structure (form and order) of objects, not their ‘essence’.” Otto Neurath 1929.

“…the various uses of type concepts in psychology and the social sciences, when freed from certain misleading connotations, prove to be of exactly the same character as the methods of classification, ordering, measurement, empirical correlation, and finally theory formation used in the natural sciences.” Hempel 1952.

“In short, the social sciences today possess no wide-ranging systems of explanations judged as adequate by a majority of professionally competent students, and they are characterized by serious disagreements on methodological as well as substantive questions.” Nagel 1961.

“…the generalizations of social inquiry do not appear to differ radically from generalizations currently advocated in… natural science—for example, in the study of turbulence phenomena and in embryology.” Nagel 1961.

“…the method of falsification presupposes no inductive inference, but only the traditional transformations of deductive logic whose validity is not in dispute.” (Popper 1932).

“Two chief problems of the theory of knowledge are the questions of meaning and the question of verification. The first question asks under what conditions a sentence has meaning, in the sense of cognitive, factual meaning. The second one asks how we get to know something, how we can find out whether a given sentence is true or false. The second question presupposes the first one.” Carnap 1936.

“It goes without saying that a theory to be sound must fit the facts but it does not follow that the facts alone, discovered independently of theory, determine what the theory is to be, nor that theory is not a factor in determining what facts will be discovered, what is to be the direction of interest of scientific investigation.” (Parsons 1937).

“The simplest way to see the meaning of the concept of a closed system in this sense is to consider the example of a system of simultaneous equations.” (Parsons 1937).

“Modern empiricism has been conditioned in large part by two dogmas. One is a belief in some fundamental cleavage between truths which are analytic, or grounded in meanings independently of matters of fact, and truths which are synthetic, or grounded in fact. The other dogma is reductionism: the belief that each meaningful statement is equivalent to some logical construct upon terms which refer to immediate experience. Both dogmas, I shall argue, are ill-founded.” Quine 1951.

“The individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language.” Wittgenstein 1953.

“So far, the scientists are undoubtedly in the right: when it comes to interrogating Nature, in the laboratory or in the field, we must leave her to answer for herself—and answer without any prompting.” Toulmin 1961.

“Minerva’s owl flies at dusk.” Lakatos 1970.

“But Kuhn’s conceptual framework for dealing with continuity in science is socio-psychological: mine is normative. I look at continuity in science through ‘Popperian spectacles’. Where Kuhn sees ‘paradigms’, I also see rational ‘research programmes’.” Lakatos 1970.

“Even a law-and-order science will succeed only if anarchistic moves are occasionally allowed to take place.” Feyerabend 1975.


From Philosophies of Social Science: The Classic and Contemporary Readings. By Delanty and Strydom

2 thoughts on “Positivism and Post-empiricism.

  1. Pingback: Positivism for Millennium 3 « Political Pipeline

  2. Pingback: Misleading world, stress, technique, superficiality, past, future and positivism | From guestwriters

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