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’
    • ‘Even philosophical critics of rationalism pay reason the back-handed compliment of arguing against its pretensions.’
    • ‘The hidden premiss of rationalism led Spinoza to the conclusion that there is only one substance.’
    • ‘Her description of economic rationalism is primarily based on its enemies' assumptions, not on economic rationalists' actual views.’
    • ‘As different as Locke and Hume's empiricism was from Descartes' rationalism, they had something in common.’
    • ‘Gandy asserts that surveillance is a system based on rationalism, which is illustrated in various practices at Jones and Smith.’
    • ‘Despite the advances of rationalism, a belief in the supernatural has stubbornly remained.’
    • ‘It must ask, as Kant asked about metaphysics after Hume's critique of rationalism, how is philosophy still possible?’
    • ‘Western philosophy today can he characterized by three things: reductionism, rationalism and a belief in progress.’
    • ‘Democratic culture is far richer and more diverse, Stout argues, than the terms of Rawls's etiolated rationalism can capture.’
    • ‘The result of these new realizations is that we can now problematize or relativize secular rationalism.’
    • ‘Contemporary historians of philosophy challenge this traditional distinction between rationalism and empiricism.’
    • ‘At the beginning of university, I was influenced by rationalism and humanism.’
    • ‘For 2000 years, philosophers had to choose whether they followed Plato and his rationalism, or Aristotle and his empiricism.’
    • ‘Jacobi's version of Pascal's wager was also decisive for another later religious critic of secular rationalism, Søren Kierkegaard.’
    • ‘Confucian thought is characterized by a spirit of humanism, rationalism, and moralism.’
    • ‘Scientific rationalism is grounded on normative principles and expresses a specific hierarchy of values.’
    • ‘This battle for God was an attempt to fill the void at the heart of a society based on scientific rationalism.’
    • ‘These women rejected their contemporaries' scientific rationalism and positivism in favour of a profound respect for local knowledges.’
    • ‘The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard rejected this rationalism, correctly seeing that such thinking leads to loss of all meaning.’
    • ‘This is to extend the ambition of rationalism to practical reason.’
    agnosticism, doubt
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Philosophy The theory that reason rather than experience is the foundation of certainty in knowledge.
      • ‘By operationalizing Godel and set theory, Badiou's rationalism makes no concessions at all to the worldly or to the empirical.’
      • ‘Their approach to science was symbolic of a new style, following on from the experimental rationalism of Boyle and Newton.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Indeed, there is some danger that we are approaching the sunset of the second great experiment with rationalism (after the classical world).’
      • ‘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.’
    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.’
      • ‘Sadly, such distinctive rationalism of non-Hindu religions finds no place in this textbook.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’