chapter  6
26 Pages

Empiricism, Associationism, and Utilitarianism

ByWilliam Douglas Woody, Wayne Viney

In this chapter, the author deals with the empirical-inductive philosophy of Francis Bacon and discusses the radical empiricism of David Hume. He examines associationism and utilitarianism, two intellectual traditions inspired by empiricism. The English term experience is roughly equivalent to the term empiricism, which was derived from the Greek empeirikos and its Latin equivalent empiricus. Modern empiricism, beginning with Bacon, was conceived partly as a promising method for the new inductive sciences and partly as an alternative to the traditions and authorities of the past. A number of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophers tackled the possibilities and limitations of empiricism as a way of knowing. George Berkeley employed empiricism as a tool to battle materialism and skepticism. He wanted to restore faith in spiritual interpretations of the world. Etienne Bonnot de Condillac demonstrated practical uses of empiricism in the investigation of problems such as the development of language and the learning process.