sensationalism, in philosophy, the theory that there are no innate ideas and that knowledge is derived solely from the sense data of experience. The idea was discussed by Greek philosophers and is shown variously in the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume, Julien de La Mettrie, Baron d'Holbach, Claude Helvétius, Étienne de Condillac, Ernst Mach, and others. See also empiricism.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.