Reading a review of Butler's Bodies that matter (Cheah 1996), I stumbled upon a sentence that echoes and embodies many other similar pejorative comments concerning positivism (see here):
This means that a consideration of the material category of sex is as crucial to feminist contestation as gender norms because the former is a materialization of the latter. But by the same token, a theory of sex as a dynamic process of materialization rather than a substance also cautions us against an unquestioning positivist affirmation of sex as a material bedrock for axiological claims.
Definition of positivism:
(1) Cambridge: the belief that knowledge comes from things that can be experienced with the senses or proved by logic
(2) Merriam Webster: a theory that theology and metaphysics are earlier imperfect modes of knowledge and that positive knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations as verified by the empirical sciences
(3) Collins: Positivism is a philosophy which accepts only things that can be seen or proved.
(4) Oxford languages: a philosophical system recognizing only that which can be scientifically verified or which is capable of logical or mathematical proof, and therefore rejecting metaphysics and theism.
(5) APA Dictionary of Psychology : a family of philosophical positions holding that all meaningful propositions must be reducible to sensory experience and observation and thus that all genuine knowledge is to be built on strict adherence to empirical methods of verification.
(1) Side question: With regard to the definition of "positivism", why not using the term "scientific" instead of "positivism", if this what is meant?
(2) Main question: What is the problem with positivism?
Butler, and other people commenting on positivism try to produce knowledge. Science also tries to produce knowledge. So what is the problem with positivism (aka science)?
Cheah, P. (1996). Mattering. Diacritics 26, 108-39.