Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 648 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SENSATIONALISM, in psychology, the theory that all know-ledge comes from sensation (see PSYCHOLOGY). Thus Aristippus the Cyrenaic held that there could be no knowledge save that which the senses give, but the Stoics, while finding the origin of knowledge in the senses, do not restrict it to this. Sensationalism in modern times is chiefly associated with Hobbes, Locke, Hume and the French philosophers of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, Condillac and others. In its extreme sense it has rarely been held, and is practically abandoned by modern philosophers on the plain ground that a sensation as such lasts only as long as the stimulus is applied. Any connexion of sensation is some-thing over and above sensation, and without this connexion there can be no knowledge (see EMPIRICISM, PHENOMENON, &c.). The term has also come into colloquial use for the practice of appealing—e.g. in art, literature and especially in journalism—solely to the emotions, disregarding proportion and fact.

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