عنوان مقاله [English]
In scientific research, the provision of satisfactory explanations for the recognition of phenomena and the application of results obtained from this recognition in problem solving and in meeting human needs are only possible when the scientific research process falls within the framework of a systematic pattern of a proper methodology. In the meantime, the experientialism and positivism approaches which gained considerable successes in scientific discoveries during the Renaissance turned into undisputed approaches in the field of scientific methodology by the early nineteenth century and spread out the naturalistic worldview on all scientific fields, on both natural and human sciences. However, since the beginning of the nineteenth century up to the present, by the emergence of certain problems and failures in epistemological assumptions, as well as the emergence of numerous political and social crises due to the extreme scientism, gradually, the principles and assumptions of experientialism has faced with many questions and raised grave doubts; and ultimately it resulted in a new methodology called “hermeneutic and interpretive methodology” in the human sciences. In this paper, we are going to examine the nature of positivism and the effect of this school of thought in geography, and to provide an epistemological analysis of this school of thought from the viewpoint of critical rationalism.
The present research is placed among theoretical and fundamental research, due to its philosophical and logical nature. This is a descriptive-analytical (logical) research and the analyses are performed based on logical reasoning. For this reason, the topics and contents discussed in this collection are considered as documentary and library research.
Result and Discussion
In the 1950s and 1960s, geographers focused on positivist attitudes in scientific explanation of geographic issues. In this regard, positivism tries to acquire knowledge of the geographical space through empirical foundations and mathematical logic besides through validation and using quantitative methods it seeks to establish rules that can explain spatial dispersion and in general, to base geography on certain theories which has mathematical precision and to formulate them according to mathematical models and calculations. Therefore, in this approach, correlation and experiments are used to reduce the complex interactions between components, which include empirical tests, random samples, controlled variables (independent, dependent and moderator), control groups, and so on. In this regard, positivist schools in geography such as environmentalism, spatial science, behavioral geography, and systemic attitudes were discussed. Generally, in the mentioned schools, the features can be characterized as follows: the use of statistical and quantitative methods, mathematics and computer in analyzes, the use of abundant models, the belief in the existence of definitive scientific laws of geography and the use of mechanical language, efforts to build public laws in the form of systematic study, the existence of a single method for natural and social sciences, the existence of experimental ground in geographic research, causal explanations, the belief in technical knowledge, the use of abundant maps, as well as mental maps in place and space, The use of questionnaires and perceptual-cognitive tests, Statistical measurements and Generalization inductive, the application of definitive laws and principles in systematic geography in various subjects on a global scale and dependent on natural social laws, the existence of the certain of law for all natural and human phenomena in the system attitude and in general The emphasis on experimentation and measurement and generalization as "scientific standards", the use of "experience" as the main source of positivity of geographic realities, the look of the earth as a coherent and natural system and one coherent as an ecosystem. Then by representing multiple geographical propositions we showed how this approach makes gross generalization while it mixing “trends with laws”. In general, positivism in terms of ontology, believes in realism (objectivism) and the separation of the subject and the object; moreover, it is an objectivist theory in terms of epistemology; that means it seeks to discover the absolute knowledge in relation to an objective reality; and in methodology it tries to find causal explanations based on induction and empirical generalizations.
Positivism is one of the most important philosophical schools that affected the literature of geography and has been influential in schools such as environmentalism, spatial science, behavioral geography, and system attitude. This approach involves knowledge of the geographic space through the empirical foundations and mathematical logic. Accordingly, geography is objective, observational, quantitative and inductive, and contains theory-independent observations and value judgments; therefore, geographers seek to discover the causal relationships that exist among the phenomena and to represent them in the form of “general and universal laws of Geography”. The objectivity of science in the inductive view of the fact is that both observation and inductive reasoning are objective and the truth of observational propositions can be demonstrated by observing all its senses. As a consequence, the positivist geographers reject metaphysical discussions and turn towards the “testable experience”, consider the experience and the empirical testing as a criterion for scientific validity, thus they negate the hypotheses, categories, and presuppositions and assert that the science begins with observation and they do not consider the role of problem and hypothesis or the active and creative role of the researcher in the research process; and then, they make generalization in terms of observations that were made on the basis of inductive reasoning in order to lay down laws which causes the mixing of “trend with law” in the positivist geography; correspondingly, in this paper, several geographic propositions were examined. Therefore, the application of positivism due to the above mentioned problems is faced with serious problems as a scientific approach in the field of geography. Hence, this approach lacks the efficiency and the necessary capabilities in order to be applied in the field of geographic studies as a “scientific” approach and methodology.