essentialism
The doctrine that it is correct to distinguish between those properties of a thing, or kind of thing, that are essential to it, and those that are merely accidental . Essential properties are ones that it cannot lose without ceasing to exist. Thus a person wearing a hat may take off the hat, or might not have been wearing the hat, but the same person cannot cease to occupy space, and we cannot postulate a possible situation in which the person is not occupying space. If we agree with this (it is not beyond debate, which illustrates the difficulty with essentialism), occupying space is an essential property of persons, but wearing a hat an accidental one. The main problem is to locate the grounds for this intuitive distinction. One suggestion is that it arises simply from the ways of describing things, and is therefore linguistic or even conventional in origin. Contrasted with this (the nominal essence) is the Lockean idea that things themselves have underlying natures (real essences) that underly and explain their other properties. Essentialism is used in feminist writing of the view that females (or males) have an essential nature (e.g. nurturing and caring versus being aggressive and selfish), as opposed to differing by a variety of accidental or contingent features brought about by social forces. See also determinism (<

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • essentialism — (n.) 1939, from ESSENTIAL (Cf. essential) + ISM (Cf. ism). Related: Essentialist …   Etymology dictionary

  • essentialism — [e sen′shəliz΄əm, i sen′shəliz΄əm] n. Philos. a theory which stresses indispensable conceptual characteristics and relations of things as opposed to existence as particular experienced actuality essentialist n …   English World dictionary

  • Essentialism — In philosophy, essentialism is the view that, for any specific kind of entity, there is a set of characteristics or properties all of which any entity of that kind must possess. This view is contrasted with non essentialism which states that for… …   Wikipedia

  • essentialism — essentialist, n., adj. /euh sen sheuh liz euhm/, n. Educ. a doctrine that certain traditional concepts, ideals, and skills are essential to society and should be taught methodically to all students, regardless of individual ability, need, etc. Cf …   Universalium

  • essentialism — noun Date: 1927 1. an educational theory that ideas and skills basic to a culture should be taught to all alike by time tested methods compare progressivism 2. a philosophical theory ascribing ultimate reality to essence embodied in a thing… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • essentialism — noun The view that objects have properties that are essential to them. See Also: essentialist …   Wiktionary

  • essentialism — эссенциализм …   Термины гендерных исследований

  • essentialism — A philosophical term which has been used in a variety of ways. According to Karl Popper (Conjectures and Refutations, 1969), essentialists make the twin claims that it is possible to establish definitively the truth of a scientific theory, and… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • essentialism — n. belief that all things have intrinsic properties that can be discovered by reason (Philosophy); theory that promotes teaching specific fundamental subjects and skills to all students (Education) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Essentialism — the belief and practice centered on a philosophical claim that for any specific kind of entity it is at least theoretically possible to specify a finite list of characteristics, all of which any entity must have to belong to the group defined …   Mini philosophy glossary

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