sciolism

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Late Latin sciolus (sciolist) + English -ism (suffix forming the names of tendencies of action, behaviour, condition, opinion, or state belonging to classes or groups of persons), based on sciolist.[1] Sciolus is a diminutive of Latin scius (cognizant, knowing) + -olus (variant of -ulus (suffix forming diminutives)); while scius is either from sciō (to be able to; to have practical knowledge, know (how to do something); to understand) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *skey- (to dissect; to split)), or is a back-formation from nescius (ignorant, unaware; unknowing) (from nesciō (to be ignorant, not know, not understand; to be unable), from ne- (prefix meaning ‘not’) + sciō).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

sciolism (countable and uncountable, plural sciolisms) (dated, derogatory)

  1. (uncountable) The practice of expressing opinions on something which one knows only superficially or has little real understanding of; also, shallow or superficial knowledge; (countable) an instance of this.
    • [1795], “Remarks on Mrs. Macaulay Graham’s Letters on Education”, in Literary and Critical Remarks, on Sundry Eminent Divines and Philosophers, of the Last and Present Age. [], London: [] B. Crosby, [], OCLC 837365904, part II, pages 314–315:
      Indeed, I ſometimes incline to hope that infidelity is arrived at its higheſt pitch, and that ſcioliſm may advance into found knowledge and ſaving faith: []
    • 1798 March, “Art. II.—Two Letters on the Conduct of Our Domestic Parties, with Regard to French Politics; including Observations on the Conduct of the Minority, in the Session of 1793. By the Late Right Hon. Edmund Burke. 8vo. 199 pp. 3s. Rivingtons, and Hatchard, Piccadilly. 1797. [book review]”, in The British Critic, a New Review, volume XI, London: [] F[rancis] and C[harles] Rivington, [], OCLC 233639140, page 245:
      Here are painted, the miſchiefs of the multiplication of political Scioliſts, and the progreſs of political Scioliſm; the decay of profound knowledge, the perverſion of what we retain, and the decline of religion.
    • 1800, “Art. XV. Lettre, &c. i.e. A Letter to the Editor of the Monthly Review: or an Answer to the Objections in that Journal, to the Methods of the Limits of Hypothetic Fluxions. By Mr. Stockler, Colonel of the Corps of Artillery, Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, [in Lisbon], and Mathematical Professor of that of the Marine, Lisbon, &c. 1800.”, in The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine; or, Monthly Political and Literary Censor, volume VI, London: [] T. Crowder, [], OCLC 639841096, pages 526–527:
      The pureſt geometry has taught us, that lines may be taken as generated by motion, and that magnitude, in the abſtract, may be conſidered as repreſented by lines ſo generated; and conſequently increaſing quantity by increaſing lines: the crude paralogiſms of a vitiated metaphyſics, ſetting themſelves in oppoſition to the very poſtulates of all geometry, the truth of which we recognize by intuition, may pretend, that motion is a principle foreign to the nature of the ſubject; we are not to rank theſe ſcioliſms among the things which the rigour of the most exact reaſoning requires.
    • 1816, S[amuel] T[aylor] Coleridge, “[Appendix, Containing Comments and Essays.] Appendix D.”, in The Statesman’s Manual; or The Bible the Best Guide to Political Skill and Foresight: [], London: [] [S. Curtis] for Gale and Fenner, []; J. M. Richardson, []; and Hatchard, [], OCLC 932839241, page xxxi:
      The contempt, in which such persons hold the works and doctrines of all theologians before [Hugo] Grotius, and of all philosophers before [John] Locke and [David] Hartley (at least before [Francis] Bacon and [Thomas] Hobbes) is not accidental, nor yet altogether owing to that epidemic of a proud ignorance occasioned by a diffused sciolism, which gave a sickly and hectic shewiness to the latter half of the last century.
    • 1823, C[harles] Wellbeloved, Three Letters Addressed to the Ven. and Rev. Francis Wrangham, M.A. Archdeacon of Cleveland, in Reply to his Remarks on Unitarianism and Unitarians, Contained in His Charge to the Clergy of his Archdeaconry, Delivered in July, 1822, 2nd edition, York, Yorkshire: [] Thomas Wilson and Sons, [], OCLC 702218756, page 11:
      And after all, should it be proved that Unitarian writers of the present generation are sciolists, it will not follow that their principles deserve the opprobrious name of sciolism. Principles which either wholly, or in their most essential particulars, have been professed, illustrated, and defended by such men as J. Crellius, Slichtingius, and other eminently learned Polish writers: and in our own country, by Peirce, Emlyn, Benson, Lardner, Lowman, Tyrwhitt, Jebb, Lindsey, and Wakefield, to whom many other equally honourable names might be added, cannot be fairly characterized as belonging to a school of sciolism.
    • 1838 November, “Art VIII.—Who are the True Conservatives?”, in The Quarterly Christian Spectator, volume X, number IV, New Haven, Conn.: [] Hezekiah Howe, [], OCLC 5090641, page 608:
      They have guarded a few minds against sciolism and pretension in philosophy, and they have given a new and more imposing air to sciolism itself, and placed in the hands of the charlatan enchantments and magical arts, which hold fast its victims with a potency never granted to an inferior spell. There is no sciolism now which is more dangerous than that which is so very careful to inform us of its entire freedom from all that is superficial, []
    • 1845, Joseph Jones, Aphoristical Instruction: or, Many Thoughts in Few Words, London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co. W. Rowbottom, [], OCLC 265033655, page 73:
      Sciolism knows every thing, talks of every thing, and cuts every Gordian knot with ease: but wise knowledge sees that the sphere of light is small; is humble and silent; and allows mysteries to be mysteries.
    • 1855, Charles Kingsley, Glaucus; or, The Wonders of the Shore, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Macmillan & Co., OCLC 46784872, page 44:
      [H]ow to counteract the tendency to shallow and conceited sciolism, engendered by hearing popular lectures on all manner of subjects, which can only be really learnt by stern methodic study; [] above all, how to develop the physical powers, without engendering brutality and coarseness,—are questions becoming daily more and more to be solved, in an age of enterprise, travel, and emigration, like the present.
    • 1859 March, John Henry Pestalozzi, “VIII. Evening Hour of a Hermit.”, in Henry Barnard, editor, The American Journal of Education, volume VI, number XVI, Hartford, Conn.: F. C. Brownell; London: Trübner & Co., [], OCLC 1042245599, page 172:
      Unsteady will be the progress of that man who, in the hurlyburly of his sciolisms, finds, to be sure, material for many words, but sacrifices to them the quietness of real wisdom.
    • 1939 January–March, William S. Knickerbocker, “Designs on Mr. Upton: A Rumination on Sciolism and Its Engagements with William Shakespeare”, in The Sewanee Review, volume XLVII, number 1, Sewanee, Tenn.: T. Hodgson for University of the South, OCLC 1936968, section II, page 115:
      His sciolism will then proceed more positively to fit his discoveries in the plays to the antecedent construct of his candidate for the authorship. It all works out very neatly. Every item joins: fits! But, alas!, he is thoroughly immune to any correction of his mind: []
    • 2003, Sara Delamont, “Organising the Necessary Work: The Question(s) of Method(s)”, in Feminist Sociology, London; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, →ISBN, pages 70–71:
      One early definition of feminist research, which was often cited as a mantra was 'feminist research is by women, on women, for women.' [] I have called this mantra a sciolism because it was so superficial. [] The other sciolism was that all positivist or quantitative research methods (treated as synonymous) were 'hard' and masculine, so all feminist research must be interpretivist and/or qualitative, and therefore soft and feminine. This was both insulting to the men who did qualitative research and to women who chose quantitative methods as Jayaratne (1983) argued at the time. Clegg (1985) published a paper which clearly quashed that sciolism, intellectually, but did not of course kill it. Maynard reviews this sciolism and disposes of it.

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ sciolism, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2021; “sciolism, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.