Empiricism is a philosophical doctrine which regards experience as the only source of knowledge. The empiricist draws his rules of practice not from theory but from close observation and experiment, emphasizing inductive rather than deductive processes of thought. In seventeenth- and eighteenth- century medicine, however, empiricism was synonymous with quackery, and in literary criticism the term is also generally employed to characterize an uninformed judgment. John Locke, in his enormously influential Essay concerning Human Understanding, refuted the concept on "innate ideas" and insisted that all human knowledge was of empiric origin. Bishop Berkeley's philosophical works attack Locke's insistence on the existence of an external material reality. Dr. Johnson was, emphatically, an empiricist: William Blake, equally emphatically, was not.


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