Definitions for reductionismrɪˈdʌk ʃəˌnɪz əm
This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word reductionism
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
re•duc•tion•ismrɪˈdʌk ʃəˌnɪz əm(n.)
the theory that every complex phenomenon, esp. in biology or psychology, can be explained by analyzing the simplest, most basic physical mechanisms that are in operation during the phenomenon.
Category: Biology, Psychology
the practice of oversimplifying a complex idea or issue to the point of minimizing or distorting it.
Category: Common Vocabulary
Origin of reductionism:
a theory that all complex systems can be completely understood in terms of their components
the analysis of complex things into simpler constituents
an approach to studying complex systems or ideas by reducing them to a set of simpler components
any of several theories holding that complex systems or ideas can always be reduced to a set of simpler components
Reductionism is a philosophical position which holds that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents. This can be said of objects, phenomena, explanation, theories, and meanings. Fragmentalism is an alternative term for reductionism, although fragmentalism is frequently used in a pejorative sense. Reductionism strongly reflects a certain perspective on causality. In a reductionist framework, phenomena that can be explained completely in terms of relations between other more fundamental phenomena, are called epiphenomena. Often there is an implication that the epiphenomenon exerts no causal agency on the fundamental phenomena that explain it. Reductionism does not preclude the existence of what might be called emergent phenomena, but it does imply the ability to understand those phenomena completely in terms of the processes from which they are composed. This reductionist understanding is very different from that usually implied by the term 'emergence', which typically intends that what emerges is more than the sum of the processes from which it emerges. Religious reductionism generally attempts to explain religion by boiling it down to certain nonreligious causes. A few examples of reductionistic explanations for the presence of religion are: that religion can be reduced to humanity's conceptions of right and wrong, that religion is fundamentally a primitive attempt at controlling our environments, that religion is a way to explain the existence of a physical world, and that religion confers an enhanced survivability for members of a group and so is reinforced by natural selection. Anthropologists Edward Burnett Tylor and James George Frazer employed some religious reductionist arguments. Sigmund Freud's idea that religion is nothing more than an illusion, or even a mental illness, and the Marxist view that religion is "the sigh of the oppressed," providing only "the illusory happiness of the people," are two other influential reductionist explanations of religion.
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