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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ A believer might move from one form of piety to another, embracing mysticism and rationalism at the same time.
▪ But cognitive theories' rationalism is male-identified, drawing on dominant conceptions of the masculine nature of logical, coherent thought.
▪ Eventually that sense of the truth was rejected even by some philosophers who had initally accepted scientific rationalism with great enthusiasm.
▪ In rejecting the reductionism of rationalism, the counterculture was so deeply anti-intellectual that it forfeited access to its own history.
▪ It spread through the body and achieved chemically and pharmacologically what rationalism and the Protestant ethic sought to fulfill spiritually and ideologically.
▪ The errors of constructivist rationalism stem from the belief that reason alone enables human beings to construct society anew.
▪ Without understanding this philosophical background it is difficult to appreciate the distinctiveness of Oakeshott's critique of rationalism.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Rationalism \Ra"tion*al*ism\ (r[a^]sh"[u^]n*al*[i^]z'm), n. [Cf. F. rationalisme.]

  1. (Theol.) The doctrine or system of those who deduce their religious opinions from reason or the understanding, as distinct from, or opposed to, revelation.

  2. (Philos.) The system that makes rational power the ultimate test of truth; -- opposed to sensualism, or sensationalism, and empiricism.


n. (context philosophy English) The theory that the basis of knowledge is reason, rather than experience or divine revelation.

  1. n. (philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge is acquired by reason without resort to experience

  2. the theological doctrine that human reason rather than divine revelation establishes religious truth

  3. the doctrine that reason is the right basis for regulating conduct [syn: freethinking]

Rationalism (disambiguation)

Rationalism may refer to:

  • Rationalism, a philosophical position, theory, or view that reason is the source of knowledge
  • Rationalism (architecture), a term applied to a number of architectural movements
  • Rationalism (international relations), a political perspective on the international system
  • Rationalism (theology), philosophical Rationalism applied in theology
  • Critical rationalism, an epistemological philosophy advanced by Karl Raimund Popper
  • Economic rationalism, an Australian term in discussion of microeconomic policy
  • Pancritical rationalism, a theory by William Warren Bartley developed from panrationalism and critical rationalism
  • Progressive rationalism

In epistemology, rationalism is the view that "regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge" or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification". More formally, rationalism is defined as a methodology or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive".

In an old controversy, rationalism was opposed to empiricism, where the rationalists believed that reality has an intrinsically logical structure. Because of this, the rationalists argued that certain truths exist and that the intellect can directly grasp these truths. That is to say, rationalists asserted that certain rational principles exist in logic, mathematics, ethics, and metaphysics that are so fundamentally true that denying them causes one to fall into contradiction. The rationalists had such a high confidence in reason that empirical proof and physical evidence were regarded as unnecessary to ascertain certain truths – in other words, "there are significant ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of sense experience".

Different degrees of emphasis on this method or theory lead to a range of rationalist standpoints, from the moderate position "that reason has precedence over other ways of acquiring knowledge" to the more extreme position that reason is "the unique path to knowledge". Given a pre-modern understanding of reason, rationalism is identical to philosophy, the Socratic life of inquiry, or the zetetic ( skeptical) clear interpretation of authority (open to the underlying or essential cause of things as they appear to our sense of certainty). In recent decades, Leo Strauss sought to revive "Classical Political Rationalism" as a discipline that understands the task of reasoning, not as foundational, but as maieutic.

In politics, Rationalism, since the Enlightenment, historically emphasized a "politics of reason" centered upon rational choice, utilitarianism, secularism, and irreligion – the latter aspect's antitheism later ameliorated by utilitarian adoption of pluralistic rationalist methods practicable regardless of religious or irreligious ideology.

In this regard, the philosopher John Cottingham noted how rationalism, a methodology, became socially conflated with atheism, a worldview:

Rationalism (theology)
Rationalism (international relations)

Rationalism in politics is often seen as the midpoint in the three major political viewpoints of realism, rationalism, and internationalism. Whereas Realism and Internationalism are both on ends of the scale, rationalism tends to occupy the middle ground on most issues, and finds compromise between these two conflicting points of view.

Rationalism (architecture)

In architecture, rationalism is an architectural current which mostly developed from Italy in the 1920s-1930s. Vitruvius had claimed in his work De Architectura that architecture is a science that can be comprehended rationally. This formulation was taken up and further developed in the architectural treatises of the Renaissance. Progressive art theory of the 18th-century opposed the Baroque use of illusionism with the classic beauty of truth and reason.

Twentieth-century rationalism derived less from a special, unified theoretical work than from a common belief that the most varied problems posed by the real world could be resolved by reason. In that respect it represented a reaction to historicism and a contrast to Art Nouveau and Expressionism.

Usage examples of "rationalism".

The history of Colonies shows usSyracuse is one examplethat Culture-crises, even autopathic ones like the appearance of Rationalism, produce greater effects in them.

American autopathic tendencies, arising from the disintegratory influence of Rationalism and Materialism, are the source of the possibilities of which the Culture-distorter made use.

The Age of Rationalism, of Materialism, of Criticism, of Economics, of Democracy and Parliamentarism, in short the first phase of the Civilization Crisis, was coming to an end, and the Crisis was about to be dissolved in the new Age, that of Absolute Politics, of Authority, of Historicism.

His system seemed to have absorbed the rationalism of the Apologists and the intelligible simplicity of their moral theology, just as much as it did the Gnostic dualism with its particoloured mythology.

When Authority resurges once more against the forces of Rationalism and Economics, it proceeds at once to show that the complex of transcendental ideals with which Liberalism equipped itself is as valid as the Legitimism of the era of Absolute Monarchy, and no more.

Rationalism and Supernaturalism became the principal division of theological schools.

This same unadaptability of logic and reason to organic rhythms affects fundamentally the Nation-Idea during the period of Rationalism.

Thomas Aquinas do with the mythology of Brahminism, he who set forth all the science and rationality and even rationalism of Christianity?

This admission to Rationalism has been eagerly seized by the Coleridgean school, and elaborated in some of their writings.

Japan before it was altered by Confucian rationalism and the complex religious doctrines of Buddhism.

I proceeded to smash materialism, rationalism, and all the philosophy of Tyndall, Helmholtz, Darwin and the rest of the 1860 people into smithereens.

Crane Brinton, professor of ancient and modern history at Harvard, identified humanism, Protestantism and rationalism as the three great ideas making the modern world.

Inquisition, Jesuitry, in one word, all the peculiarities of Catholicism developed through the power of the same formal process of reasoning, so that Protestantism itself, which the Catholics reproach with rationalism, developed directly out of the rationalism of Catholicism.

Ryba had intimated that the place was almost a throwback to the white demons of Rationalism, but again, in almost two years no traders or locals had mentioned Cyador.

In its first century, Rationalism affirmed the nations as the ultimate units of history and warred against the subjection of the nations to the dynasts.