Essence of Positivism
Positivism is the intellectual position which holds that the scientific method of inquiry into the frameworks of acquiring knowledge is the best approach in the uncovering process of how human and physical events occur that pertains and affects human life. This concept was coined in the early 19th century by the founding sociologists and philosopher Auguste Comte. Comte asserts that the only veritable and authentic knowledge is that which is founded on the structures of sense experience that is touch, seeing, feeling and backed by .positive verification. Positivism is a philosophy that emerged as a reaction to the deficiencies of the cognitive/speculative philosophy which had failed to solve pertinent philosophical problems that accrued due to the scientific revolution .It is a position that virtually rejects the theoretical speculation as a means of quenching epistemological thirst and upholds the concept of empiricism.
In the sociological context the concept was integrated into sociology’s research methods and reformulated by Emile Durkheim who posited that positivism forms a critical foundation for any research. The basic principles informing this thought is that any scientific inquiry or epistemological search should be value-neutral in that what should override the whole proposition is the ultimate goal of science which is void of any morals, value or political considerations. It also postulates that the goal of any science is to develop the law of general understanding by ascertaining and confirming necessary and sufficient conditions so that in future any epistemological inquiry will be deduced from this law of general understanding.
In my own assessment positivism to a great extent is not falsifiable in the perspective of producing veritable knowledge but the fundamental principle which it holds that any scientific inquiry should disregard any morals, politics and values is a path that I philosophically disagree with. If this principle is held to the later as this tenet means it will result in science that is void of human face and can translate to gravious violation of human rights in the pretext of scientific inquiry.
Thomas Kuhn was an American physicist who contributed enormously to the disciplines of sociology and philosophy of science especially in the fields of methodologies in epistemological inquiry and research. Thomas Kuhn critiqued the positivist view that the main objective of science is to establish the law of general understanding that should be used as the general reference. In his book “The structure of scientific revolution” he deconstructed this position by asserting that science undergoes periodic paradigm shifts instead of tranjecting in a linear way. According to Kuhn he argued that an episodic model in which, periods of such conceptual continuity, which he termed as “Normal Science,” will be interrupted by periods of Revolutionary Science. In the Revolutionary Science phase a change in deep concepts resulted in a new set of defining and solving problems for the science, the temporary sacrifice of some explanatory power of the old concepts, and, most radically, a process of integration that, instead of being a rational comparison of the set of solved vs. unsolved problem
He posited that science starts from normal science whereby it acts as ‘puzzle-solving’ then it will enter an anomaly stage which is the crisis when it is found to be deficient or failing to solve some scientific questions at that particular time then paves way for revolutionary science. This revolutionary science after some time becomes normal science and the circle starts all over again.