What is the difference between materialism and positivism?

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Deckard
 
Reply Thu 1 Apr, 2010 01:53 am
What is the difference between materialism and positivism?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 1 Apr, 2010 06:07 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;147004 wrote:
What is the difference between materialism and positivism?


Materialism is a metaphysical theory. Philosophical positivism is a way of doing philosophy which rejects the supernatural.
 
prothero
 
Reply Thu 1 Apr, 2010 02:50 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;147004 wrote:
What is the difference between materialism and positivism?

Materialism is basically the notion that "matter" (whatever matter is these days?) is the fundamental constiuent of reality. Most materialist now call themselves physicalists (matter and forms of energy) these days. Materialism is often part of a worldview that includes mechanism and determinism. In materialism, mind is an emergent property of certain arrangements of matter.

Positivism is a philosophical movement. Later developments included logical positivism and verificationism. Positivism tries to decide what types of questions can be answered and therefore what types of questions are meaningful. It takes many forms some of the more common include:
Statements which can not be empirically verified are meaningless.
Reducing statements to logical symbology and deciding if they are sensible.
The most extreme forms of positivism essentially exclude traditional metphysical questions (god, life after death, the good, the true, the beautiful) as being questions that have any meaning since they can not be empirically verified or scientifically tested. In some ways positivism tries to reduce philosophy to a science. Positivism is a strong trend in analytic philosophy and held sway for many years but recently traditional metaphysics has been making a comeback.

I am no expert on these things but I thought Ken's suggestion that positivism exludes the supernatural was a little glib and no one else challenged it. It does exclude the supernatural but it excludes many other kinds of inquiry as well and is much more extensive. I think positivism is a mistake and that it severly restricts philosophy from its traditional role in questions of values and aesthetics.
As with any tool positivism has it uses and surely much talk is nonsense but philosophy is rational speculation taking into account the facts of reason, science and experience. Philosophy is not restricted to that which can be verified or empirically tested.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 1 Apr, 2010 03:01 pm
@prothero,
prothero;147174 wrote:

I am no expert on these things but I thought Ken's suggestion that positivism exludes the supernatural was a little glib and no one else challenged it. It does exclude the supernatural but it excludes many other kinds of inquiry as well and is much more extensive. I think positivism is a mistake and that it severly restricts philosophy from its traditional role in questions of values and aesthetics.
As with any tool positivism has it uses and surely much talk is nonsense but philosophy is rational speculation taking into account the facts of reason, science and experience. Philosophy is not restricted to that which can be verified or empirically tested.


Yes, it was glib. The exclusion of the supernatural is a necessary,but not sufficient condition of positivism. This gives a more complete perspective:

Positivism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
Deckard
 
Reply Thu 1 Apr, 2010 07:13 pm
@kennethamy,
Are they both forms of empiricism?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 1 Apr, 2010 07:23 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;147266 wrote:
Are they both forms of empiricism?


Berkeley was certainly not a materialist. But he certainly was an empiricist. To ask whether Berkeley was an empiricist is like asking whether the Pope is Catholic.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Thu 1 Apr, 2010 08:06 pm
@kennethamy,
How about Hobbes. He is usual referred to as a materialist rather than a positivist. Was he also an empiricist? Marx also called a materialist rather than a positivist. Was he also an empiricist?

Is there such a thing as a rationalist materialist? A rationalist positivist?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 1 Apr, 2010 08:21 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;147302 wrote:
How about Hobbes. He is usual referred to as a materialist rather than a positivist. Was he also an empiricist? Marx also called a materialist rather than a positivist. Was he also an empiricist?

Is there such a thing as a rationalist materialist? A rationalist positivist?


As for Hobbes, I think so. As for Marx, surely not. He was the philosophical scion of Hegel, the great Rationalist. In fact, he and Engels condemned Empiricism as a kind of Idealism. See, Frederick Engels famous, Anti-Duhring. Spinoza might be a Rationalist empiricist of a kind. No, not a Rationalist positivist. Positivists are, I think, committed to empiricism.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2010 03:22 am
@Deckard,
I think among the best-known expressions of positivism is A J Ayer's 'Language Truth and Logic'. It argued that only propositions or statements corresponding to actual states of affairs (I think that is the expression) are meaningful. A lot of what previously took place in philosophy, he said, is more or less the expression of an emotional stance, kind of a very elaborate way of saying 'oh, ahh'. The problem with positivism was that it ate itself. It was realised that a lot that goes on in science would actually be ruled out by a strictly positivistic outlook. But it still provides a lot of stock arguments that are used to this day. Technically, positivism is not materialism, as materialism is actually a metaphysical argument, as I think Ken pointed out above. I think modern materialism started with Baron D'Holbach, who famously said 'I see nothing but bodies in motion', a sentiment which was enthusiastically embraced by many in the Enlightenment. Hobbes, though nominally Christian, advanced a materialist outlook, but some say that was merely because he was nasty, brutish and short :bigsmile:. I myself regard materialism as a kind of ideal 'philosophy for dummies'.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2010 06:58 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;147467 wrote:
I think among the best-known expressions of positivism is A J Ayer's 'Language Truth and Logic'. It argued that only propositions or statements corresponding to actual states of affairs (I think that is the expression) are meaningful. A lot of what previously took place in philosophy, he said, is more or less the expression of an emotional stance, kind of a very elaborate way of saying 'oh, ahh'. The problem with positivism was that it ate itself. It was realised that a lot that goes on in science would actually be ruled out by a strictly positivistic outlook. But it still provides a lot of stock arguments that are used to this day. Technically, positivism is not materialism, as materialism is actually a metaphysical argument, as I think Ken pointed out above. I think modern materialism started with Baron D'Holbach, who famously said 'I see nothing but bodies in motion', a sentiment which was enthusiastically embraced by many in the Enlightenment. Hobbes, though nominally Christian, advanced a materialist outlook, but some say that was merely because he was nasty, brutish and short :bigsmile:. I myself regard materialism as a kind of ideal 'philosophy for dummies'.


LTL is a very good expression of logical positivism, one of the last stages of an older theory.

But you are mistaken in how you describe what Ayer writes. If your description were right ("It argued that only propositions or statements corresponding to actual states of affairs (I think that is the expression) are meaningful.") then that would mean that Ayer says that only true sentences are meaningful, and that is obviously preposterous. For that would mean that false sentences were meaningless, and that is absurd. The sentence that Quito is not the capital of Ecuador is false, but it is not meaningless. It is just the negation of a true sentence. What Ayer actually presents is a version of what is called the verifiability theory of meaning which is that a sentence is not meaningful unless it is "verifiable in principle" where that means that it is possible to think of what we would have to sense (what would have to happen) in order for it to be determined that it is true. For example, that Quito is not the capital of Ecuador is false, of course, but it is meaningful because we know what is would be like for it to be true. But, to take another example, according to this theory, the sentence "God exists" would be meaningless because we do not know, even in principle, how we could determine whether it is true. It is not verifiable, not even in principle.

I should add that later logical positivists (and logical empiricists) refined this principle of meaningfulness. For example, they (Rudolf Carnap) said that by "meaningful" they did not mean significant (for it is a fact that people find the issue of whether God exists is very significant) but they meant "cognitively meaningful", and what that meant was the the sentence in question was either true or false. Had a truth value. Thus, for example, a question like, "what time is it" would be meaningful, but since questions have no truth value, they would not be cognitively meaningful.

B

---------- Post added 04-02-2010 at 09:00 AM ----------

jeeprs;147467 wrote:
I think among the best-known expressions of positivism is A J Ayer's 'Language Truth and Logic'. It argued that only propositions or statements corresponding to actual states of affairs (I think that is the expression) are meaningful. A lot of what previously took place in philosophy, he said, is more or less the expression of an emotional stance, kind of a very elaborate way of saying 'oh, ahh'. The problem with positivism was that it ate itself. It was realised that a lot that goes on in science would actually be ruled out by a strictly positivistic outlook. But it still provides a lot of stock arguments that are used to this day. Technically, positivism is not materialism, as materialism is actually a metaphysical argument, as I think Ken pointed out above. I think modern materialism started with Baron D'Holbach, who famously said 'I see nothing but bodies in motion', a sentiment which was enthusiastically embraced by many in the Enlightenment. Hobbes, though nominally Christian, advanced a materialist outlook, but some say that was merely because he was nasty, brutish and short :bigsmile:. I myself regard materialism as a kind of ideal 'philosophy for dummies'.


Hobbes held that God was a material object (a rather large one). So, at least, he believed in God.
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2010 02:37 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;147004 wrote:
What is the difference between materialism and positivism?

I would say it is about the same difference as between apples and oranges...
 
Deckard
 
Reply Sat 3 Apr, 2010 07:28 pm
@Fido,
Positivism is an epistemological position while materialism is an ontological position?
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 09:18 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;148019 wrote:
Positivism is an epistemological position while materialism is an ontological position?


I Think Compte Augustus was hit by an apple, or ate one. Bann all Apples !?

Material sur-rounds US

:perplexed:
 
 

 
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