Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: June 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963978 | Print ISBN: 9781412909280 | Online ISBN: 9781412963978| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Positivism emerged as a philosophical paradigm in the 19th century with Auguste Comte's rejection of metaphysics and his assertion that only scientific knowledge can reveal the truth about reality. It was later formally established as the dominant scientific method in the early part of the 20th century by members of the Vienna Circle, including Gustav Bergmann, Rudolf Carnap, Herbert Feigl, Philipp Frank, Karl Menger, Otto Neurath, and Moritz Schlick. The Vienna Circle sought to construct a unified scientific world-conception that rejects the use of philosophy as a means of learning about the true nature of reality. Unfortunately, it failed as a coherent philosophy of science because of a critical inconsistency between its theory of “reality” and its theory of “knowledge.” Positivism adopted David Hume's theory of the nature of reality (i.e., philosophical ontology). Hume believed that reality consists of ...