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Catholic Dictionary




The view that only the sensibly perceptible is real, that only what is personally experienced is true. Thus nothing but facts can be affirmed with certitude. According to Auguste Comte (1798-1857), who coined the term "positivism," the history of humanity should be described in three stages: the first when people's minds were dominated by theology and superstition; the second when reason prevailed; and the third or final stage when dogmas and philosophies are being replaced by factual knowledge. Hence the supremacy of the physical, psychological, and social sciences in the modern age.