Tuesday, April 26, 2011

RIP Logical Positivism

This is to announce formally the death of Logical Positivism. It was born circa 1920 to Hans Hahn and other European guys. The theory was used for some time to nullify belief in the supernatural. It passed away suddenly in the late 1970s when everyone realized it did not make sense.

Logical Positivism enjoyed a strong life; one might say it was the life of the philosophical party in the Western world. Its basic tenets included the idea that only statements that can be verified by the five senses are true. All other claims—specifically metaphysical, metaethical, and religious ones—were judged to be meaningless. “I remember one time LP and I were talking,” recalled associate A.J. Ayer. “I told him how he shouldn’t be saying such mean things about people. He reminded me it was pointless!” he laughed.

Most of Logical Positivism’s friends recalled him with a sort of fondness that made it seem as though he was not really gone. “He just made it so easy to ignore religion and morality. Those were the days. The days we didn’t have to do any thinking about such matters!” lamented one anonymous mourner.

Logical Positivism was a member of the American Philosophical Association. His influence was felt in the philosophy underlying every major discipline. Even religious scholars tended to bend under his forceful will. They tended to assert theirs was a discipline devoid of any philosophical meaning; this did more harm than good.

Police were summoned to the home of Logical Positivism when neighbors reported philosophers in the 1960s and 70s were pressuring him to leave. They found him dead where he sat. The official ruling by the coroner is death by self-defeat, also known as “philosophical suicide.” If this obituary has taught us anything, it is that life is short, and we do not have to self-defeat.

Logical Positivism is survived by his son Scientism (who, to this day, does not accept his father’s death. He also thinks Elvis and JFK live with Tupac on the moon.), who has become an influential person in pop culture and, of course, science; he is also survived by a close cousin by the name of Skepticism. Logical Positivism was preceded in death by Pure Empiricism and Pure Rationalism, his father and stepfather, respectfully. May he rest in peace.

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