Definition of rationalism in US English:



  • 1A belief or theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response.

    ‘scientific rationalism’
    • ‘Gandy asserts that surveillance is a system based on rationalism, which is illustrated in various practices at Jones and Smith.’
    • ‘Confucian thought is characterized by a spirit of humanism, rationalism, and moralism.’
    • ‘As different as Locke and Hume's empiricism was from Descartes' rationalism, they had something in common.’
    • ‘Even philosophical critics of rationalism pay reason the back-handed compliment of arguing against its pretensions.’
    • ‘Western philosophy today can he characterized by three things: reductionism, rationalism and a belief in progress.’
    • ‘At the beginning of university, I was influenced by rationalism and humanism.’
    • ‘This is to extend the ambition of rationalism to practical reason.’
    • ‘Jacobi's version of Pascal's wager was also decisive for another later religious critic of secular rationalism, Søren Kierkegaard.’
    • ‘The hidden premiss of rationalism led Spinoza to the conclusion that there is only one substance.’
    • ‘The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard rejected this rationalism, correctly seeing that such thinking leads to loss of all meaning.’
    • ‘Despite the advances of rationalism, a belief in the supernatural has stubbornly remained.’
    • ‘This battle for God was an attempt to fill the void at the heart of a society based on scientific rationalism.’
    • ‘For 2000 years, philosophers had to choose whether they followed Plato and his rationalism, or Aristotle and his empiricism.’
    • ‘The result of these new realizations is that we can now problematize or relativize secular rationalism.’
    • ‘Democratic culture is far richer and more diverse, Stout argues, than the terms of Rawls's etiolated rationalism can capture.’
    • ‘Scientific rationalism is grounded on normative principles and expresses a specific hierarchy of values.’
    • ‘It must ask, as Kant asked about metaphysics after Hume's critique of rationalism, how is philosophy still possible?’
    • ‘Contemporary historians of philosophy challenge this traditional distinction between rationalism and empiricism.’
    • ‘Her description of economic rationalism is primarily based on its enemies' assumptions, not on economic rationalists' actual views.’
    • ‘These women rejected their contemporaries' scientific rationalism and positivism in favour of a profound respect for local knowledges.’
    agnosticism, doubt
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Philosophy The theory that reason rather than experience is the foundation of certainty in knowledge.
      • ‘Indeed, there is some danger that we are approaching the sunset of the second great experiment with rationalism (after the classical world).’
      • ‘But sometimes the problem is thought to lie deeper, for example, in Kant's rationalism in moral theory and his ideas of teleology and race in anthropology.’
      • ‘By operationalizing Godel and set theory, Badiou's rationalism makes no concessions at all to the worldly or to the empirical.’
      • ‘Often, empiricism is contrasted with rationalism, a theory which holds that the mind may apprehend some truths directly, without requiring the medium of the senses.’
      • ‘Their approach to science was symbolic of a new style, following on from the experimental rationalism of Boyle and Newton.’
    2. 1.2Theology The practice of treating reason as the ultimate authority in religion.
      • ‘Ultimately, rationalism is just another ‘ism’ - a religion of ideology the fundamentalist worship of which is just as dangerous as any other unfounded belief on how the world works.’
      • ‘Having said that, it could be argued that this puts heavy weight on the scale in favor of preserving tradition and providing a compelling reason for overturning it by constructive rationalism.’
      • ‘It is therefore contrary to the spirit of rationalism to force people to do anything which could plausibly be left to the individual to decide for themselves.’
      • ‘Sadly, such distinctive rationalism of non-Hindu religions finds no place in this textbook.’