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essentialism ‎(countable and uncountable, plural essentialisms)

  1. (philosophy) The view that objects have properties that are essential to them.
    • 1991, Garth L. Hallett, Essentialism: A Wittgensteinian Critique, ISBN 079140773X, page 2:
      More problematic is the essentialism that interests modal logicians, namely "the view that some attributes belong to an object by necessity whereas others belong to it contingently."
    • 2004, Kelly James Clark, ‎Richard Lints, ‎& James K. A. Smith, 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology, ISBN 0664225241, page 21:
      Opponents of essentialism argue that "essences" are simply creations of language and culture.
  2. (philosophy) The theory that human beings are by nature good and that evil is the product of society.
    • 2007, Mark Sydney Cladis, Public Vision, Private Lives, ISBN 0231139691, page 85:
      I should also mention that Rousseau's essentialism, unlike many of his contemporaries', is rather limited.
    • 2015 June 17, Rachel Spence, “Henri Rousseau: Archaic Candour, Palazzo Ducale, Venice”, Financial Times:
      But they fed what they saw as raw, unguarded essentialism into work that was anything but naive. Rousseau was a naïf himself; his work as seductively strange to the other modernists as an ancient Iberian sculpture or a child’s drawing.
  3. (sociology) The view that all members of certain groups of people (such as those with the same race, gender, age, or sexual orientation) have common, essential traits inherent to the defining feature of the group. Also, a behavior or statement that reflects such a view.
    • 2007, Luisa Fernanda Ramirez, Dual Intergroup Meanings of Essentialism, ISBN 0549886842, page 8:
      A closer examination of the components of essentialism is required for a better understanding of the relation between essentialism and prejudice toward the two social categories of interest in this dissertation, African Americans and gay men.
    • 2013, Anne Phillips, Gender and Culture, ISBN 0745659276:
      Like most of those who use the term, I continue to think essentialism a bad thing, but what exactly is wrong with it? Is it a matter of degree, a question of context or something that must be avoided at all costs?
    • 2013, Brackette Williams, Women Out of Place, ISBN 1135234760:
      I think we need to sophisticate our understanding of cultural essentialisms, including gender ones, because it might help us deal better with issues of resistance.
    • 2015, Pramod K. Nayar, The Postcolonial Studies Dictionary, ISBN 1118781023, page 68:
      Colonial discourse relied heavily on such essentialisms wherein a race or ethnic group was first represented as possessing certain key features and then those very features were 'applied' to all members of the group.
  4. (education) The doctrine that there are certain traditional concepts, values, and skills that are essential to society and should be taught to all students.
    • 2004, Arthur K. Ellis, Exemplars of Curriculum Theory, ISBN 1930556705, page 109:
      If a curriculum is dedicated to getting back to the basics, then we can be sure that the guiding philosophy is that of essentialism.
    • 2011, Thomas E. Smith & ‎Clifford E. Knapp, Sourcebook of Experiential Education, ISBN 1136881441:
      Arguments of “back to basics” are usually associated with essentialism, and many contemporary educational theorists still suggest that the “nonessentials” should be taken out of the school curriculum.
  5. A lifestyle that seeks to minimize nonessentials in order to focus on what is important.
    • 2014, Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, ISBN 0753550288, page 4:
      In this example is the basic value proposition of Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.
    • 2015 September 9, Chris Danforth, “A First Look at ETQ's New Flagship Space in Amsterdam”, Highsnobiety:
      As a brand, ETQ is built around a philosophy which is entirely dedicated to essentialism. Everything from the creation of the label to the design of each product is inspired by three principles: simplicity, timelessness and quality.

Related terms[edit]




essentialism c ‎(uncountable)

  1. (philosophy) essentialism


Related terms[edit]