Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes


(branch of epistemology [i.e., theories of knowledge])

thanks to

OED 1.b. Philos. The doctrine which regards experience as the only source of knowledge

Empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence, especially that of sense-observation, in formation of ideas, and de-emphasizes innate ideas or revealed truths.

In the natural sciences, empiricism emphasizes evidence, especially that drawn from experiments that can be duplicated and re-evaluated.

In the human or social sciences (like psychology), empiricism emphasizes clinical experiments and quantifiable data through surveys.

In popular culture, being empirical may mean being practical or realistic, ignoring perceptions or beliefs that can't be shared in objective, sensory, or quantifiable terms.

Leading thinkers: Aristotle, John Locke, Robert Boyle, David Hume

Contemporary manifestations: debunkers of hauntings, vampires, Bigfoot, etc.




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