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 that scientists can arrive at complete explanations by discovering the essence or reality that lies behind the appearance of a phenomenon. However, the term is also applied to the theory of descriptions which states that definitions are descriptions of the essential properties of things, and that one can evaluate attempts at definitions in terms of the falsity or truth of the descriptions given by them. From this point of view, science requires the discovery of such essences, and thus of correct definitions. The contemporary usage of the term is largely pejorative, since most philosophers of science accept that descriptions and knowledge are provisional, and that facts (like truth and reality) are always conceptualized in terms which are informed by theory . See also conventionalism ; relativism.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • 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 — 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.… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • 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 — 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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