What is Logical Positivism? Discuss the characteristics of Philosophical Thinking of Logical Positivists.

Logical Positivism:

Logical positivism is a philosophy which was developed by some thinkers known as Vienna Circle in 1928. Its members and supporters include Rudolf Carnap, H. Feigl, Otto Neurath, P. Frank, A.J. Ayer and Luding Wittgenstein. This philosophy claims that all statements can be turned into the formal mode and can be confined purely to words. In other words, it claims that each and every scientific fact can be presented in sentential calculus. These statements can further be simplified by making use of symbols for constants and variables and ultimately all sciences can be linked up.

Carnap opined that scientific knowledge must substitute philosophy. A statement must be assigned some meaning and for that it should be tested on some criteria of judging its truth or falsity.

Characteristics of Philosophical Thinking of Logical Positivists.

Logical positivists consider metaphysics as illogical and non-sensible. It is so because they wished to make philosophical statements amenable to logical analysis. Since metaphysical statements are not meaningful, therefore its truth or falsity cannot be tested. A statement can be proved or tested on.empirical ground if it has meaningful assertions. Logical statements do not need any confirmation or empirical evidence as long as they are being verified to logical demand.

In terms of validity of knowledge, logical positivists claim that any knowledge is true and valid if it can be verified on the basis of some criteria of verifiability. A.J. Ayer states in his book, Languages, Truth and Logic that any statement of knowledge is meaningful only when it is logically and empirically verified. Therefore they claim that there are two valid sources of knowledge which are experience and intelligence. But it is important to evaluate, test and verify any experience about world, nature, society or human beings on some criteria of logic.

Value based statements are emotive in nature and hence it is difficult to prove their truth or falsity on logical grounds. Therefore, the value based judgements are not dealt with by the positivists. They have classified the statements into two types. The first one refers to those statements which can be proved to be true on logical grounds. The second type of statements are those whose truth or falsity can be proved by empirical evidence or actual confirmation. So, according to positivists, values are also a matter of logical reasoning.

Positivists have excluded the axiology from the purview of philosophy.

Aims of Education:

Since logical positivists have considered that metaphysics should not have any place in philosophy, and knowledge has two sources of intelligence and logic, therefore, it is difficult to determine the aims of education according to positivists. It claims that education must develop the intellectual ability to think logically and reach at conclusions that can be evaluated, treated and proved either logically or empirically.

  • Development of conceptual clarity.
  • Analysis and scrutiny of various theories of education.
  • Development of linguistic analysis so as to draw meaningful conclusions.
  • Development of all round personality of a child.
  • Inculcating scientific attitude.
  • Development of an ability to analyze linguistic statements to avoid ambiguity and confusion.
  • Enabling learners to structure knowledge in such a way that they are able to judge the meaningfulness of concepts through logical or empirical verification.


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