One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A belief that things have a set of characteristics which make them what they are, and that the task of science and philosophy is their discovery and expression; the doctrine that essence is prior to existence.Compare with existentialism
- ‘They did so using the most mathematical and scientific language possible, leading into endless discussions of material constitution, possible worlds, and debates between essentialism and non-essentialism.’
- ‘It is a different phenomenon from philosophical or metaphysical essentialism.’
- ‘Darwin was generally thought to have struck a blow against Aristotelian essentialism by showing that the lines between biological species had not been drawn by God, and that species kept mutating into different species.’
- ‘From the perspective of Newtonian essentialism, all samples of a chemical element are identical and, as modern physics assumes, so are nuclear particles.’
- ‘But essentialism about organisms has been undermined by Darwinism.’
- ‘For example, Pinker attributes opposition to genetically modified foods to innate and intuitive essentialism.’
- 1.1 The view that all children should be taught on traditional lines the ideas and methods regarded as essential to the prevalent culture.
- ‘For better or worse, essentialism is the quintessential American approach to education.’
- ‘Then essentialism was criticized as being too rigid to prepare students adequately for adult life.’
- 1.2 The view that categories of people, such as women and men, or heterosexuals and homosexuals, or members of ethnic groups, have intrinsically different and characteristic natures or dispositions.
- ‘In fact, this is a very familiar problem in feminist theory: how to argue for a feminine specificity without falling into the trap of biological essentialism.’
- ‘In other words, he bases his argument on the grounds of biological essentialism, which will connect him to African Americans.’
- ‘However, we do not subscribe to a politics based on essentialism.’
- ‘So-called identity art flirted with essentialism in the early '90s, with the categories of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation regarded as all-important indicators of an artist's intent.’
- ‘Some readers have discerned a strain of racial essentialism in his putatively social constructionist stance.’
- ‘Extreme assertions of diversity, such as Kallen's, imply a kind of racial or ethnic essentialism and separatism, not merely cultural pluralism.’
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