Positivism and Metaphysics
Written by Bryan Magee
Positivism is a philosophy of science based on the view that information derived from logical and mathematical treatments and reports of sensory experience is the exclusive source of all authoritative knowledge, and that there is valid knowledge (truth) only in scientific knowledge. Verified data received from the senses are known as empirical evidence. This view holds that society, like the physical world, operates according to general laws. Introspective and intuitive knowledge is rejected. Although the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of Western thought, the modern sense of the approach was developed by the philosopher and founding sociologist Auguste Comte in the early 19th century. Comte argued that, much as the physical world operates according to gravity and other absolute laws, so also does society.
Metaphysics is a traditional branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world that encompasses it, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:
1.What is ultimately there?
2.What is it like
"In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs, in spite of things silently gone out of mind and things violently destroyed, the Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time. The objects of the Poet's thoughts are every where; though the eyes and senses of man are, it is true, his favorite guides, yet he will follow wheresoever he can find an atmosphere of sensation in which to move his wings. Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge--it is as immortal as the heart of man."
--William Wordsworth, "Preface to Lyrical Ballads"