[From Greek empeirikos: relating to or derived from experience.]

  1. (epistemology) A theory of knowledge holding that experience is the most reliable source of knowledge. In general, empiricism emphasizes induction over deduction and reality over theory - as, for instance, in the essays of Francis Bacon (1561-1626). More specifically, the school of empiricism in the 17th and 18th centuries reacted against the excesses of medieval scholasticism and rationalism by formulating a more systematic grounding for empirical knowledge. The founder of that school was John Locke (1632-1704), whose epistemology tended towards representationalism rather than realism, leading eventually to the skepticism of David Hume (1711-1776). By empiricism is sometimes meant more narrowly a focus on scientific experiment; however, a more appropriate term for that view is scientism or experimentalism.

The Ism Book by Peter Saint-Andre

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