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rational +‎ -ism


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rationalism (countable and uncountable, plural rationalisms)

  1. (philosophy) The theory that the reason is a source of knowledge independent of and superior to sense perception.
  2. (philosophy) The theory that knowledge may be derived by deductions from a priori concepts (such as axioms, postulates or earlier deductions).
  3. A view that the fundamental method for problem solving is through reason and experience rather than faith, inspiration, revelation, intuition or authority.
    • 1902, William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Lecture 3:
      The opinion opposed to mysticism in philosophy is sometimes spoken of as rationalism. Rationalism insists that all our beliefs ought ultimately to find for themselves articulate grounds. Such grounds, for rationalism, must consist of four things: (1) definitely statable abstract principles; (2) definite facts of sensation; (3) definite hypotheses based on such facts; and (4) definite inferences logically drawn.
  4. Elaboration of theories by use of reason alone without appeal to experience, such as in mathematical systems.



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