Essentialism

Essentialism

Overview
In philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, essentialism is the view that, for any specific kind of entity
Entity
An entity is something that has a distinct, separate existence, although it need not be a material existence. In particular, abstractions and legal fictions are usually regarded as entities. In general, there is also no presumption that an entity is animate.An entity could be viewed as a set...

, there is a set of characteristic
Characteristic
Characteristic may refer to:In physics and engineering, any characteristic curve that shows the relationship between certain input and output parameters, for example:...

s or properties all of which any entity of that kind must possess. Therefore all things can be precisely defined or described. In this view, it follows that terms or words should have a single definition and meaning.

In simple terms, essentialism is a generalization stating that certain properties possessed by a group (e.g.
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Encyclopedia
In philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, essentialism is the view that, for any specific kind of entity
Entity
An entity is something that has a distinct, separate existence, although it need not be a material existence. In particular, abstractions and legal fictions are usually regarded as entities. In general, there is also no presumption that an entity is animate.An entity could be viewed as a set...

, there is a set of characteristic
Characteristic
Characteristic may refer to:In physics and engineering, any characteristic curve that shows the relationship between certain input and output parameters, for example:...

s or properties all of which any entity of that kind must possess. Therefore all things can be precisely defined or described. In this view, it follows that terms or words should have a single definition and meaning.

In simple terms, essentialism is a generalization stating that certain properties possessed by a group (e.g. people, things, ideas) are universal, and not dependent on context. For example, the statement 'all human beings are mortal' is essentialist.

According to essentialism, a member of a specific group may possess other characteristics that are neither needed to establish its membership nor preclude its membership, but that essences do not simply reflect ways of grouping objects; they also result in properties of the object, as the object can be subjugated to smaller contexts.

Anthropology professor Lawrence Hirschfeld gives an example of what constitutes the essence of a tiger, regardless of whether it is striped or albino, or has lost a leg. The essential properties of a tiger are those without which it is no longer a tiger. Other properties, such as stripes or number of legs, are considered inessential or 'accidental'.
Biologist Ernst Mayr
Ernst Mayr
Ernst Walter Mayr was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, historian of science, and naturalist...

 epitomizes the effect of such an essentialist character of Platonic form
Platonic realism
Platonic realism is a philosophical term usually used to refer to the idea of realism regarding the existence of universals or abstract objects after the Greek philosopher Plato , a student of Socrates. As universals were considered by Plato to be ideal forms, this stance is confusingly also called...

s in biology: "Flesh-and-blood rabbits may vary, but their variations are always to be seen as flawed deviation from the ideal essence of rabbit". For Mayr, the healthful antithesis of essentialism in biology is "population thinking
Population biology
Population biology is a study of populations of organisms, especially the regulation of population size, life history traits such as clutch size, and extinction...

".

This view is contrasted with non-essentialism
Non-essentialism
In philosophy, non-essentialism is the belief that any given entity or subject cannot be propositionally defined in terms of specified values or characteristics, which that entity must have in order to be defined as that entity. For example, some humanists may have an idea of what the essence of...

, which states that, for any given kind of entity, there are no specific traits which entities of that kind must possess.

Essentialism came under scrutiny and criticism in the mid to late 20th century by the American pragmatist
Pragmatist
Pragmatist may refer to:*A person who subscribes to pragmatism, a field of philosophy*A person who subscribes to pragmaticism, Charles Sanders Peirce's post-1905 branch of philosophy...

 Richard Rorty
Richard Rorty
Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher. He had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University...

. Discussion of its possible limitations has taken place among social scientists
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

 and biologists as well.

In philosophy


An essence
Essence
In philosophy, essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the object or substance has contingently, without...

characterizes a substance
Substance theory
Substance theory, or substance attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood, positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears....

 or a form
Substantial form
A theory of substantial forms asserts that forms organize matter and make it intelligible. Substantial forms are the source of properties, order, unity, identity, and information about objects....

, in the sense of the Forms or Ideas in Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism usually refers to Plato's theory of forms or doctrine of ideas,Some commentators hold Plato argued that truth is an abstraction...

. It is permanent, unalterable, and eternal; and present in every possible world. Classical humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 has an essentialist conception of the human being, which means that it believes in an eternal and unchangeable human nature
Human nature
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally....

. This viewpoint has been criticized by Marx, Heidegger, Sartre, and many other existential
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 thinkers.

In Plato's philosophy (in particular, the Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

and the Philebus
Philebus
The Philebus , composed between 360 and 347 BC, is among the last of the late Socratic dialogues of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. Socrates is the primary speaker in Philebus, unlike in the other late dialogues...

), things were said to come into being in this world by the action of a demiurge
Demiurge
The demiurge is a concept from the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy for an artisan-like figure responsible for the fashioning and maintenance of the physical universe. The term was subsequently adopted by the Gnostics...

 who works to form chaos
Substance theory
Substance theory, or substance attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood, positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears....

 into ordered entities. From Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 onward the definition, in philosophical contexts, of the word "essence" is very close to the definition of form (Gr. morphe). Many definitions of essence
Essence
In philosophy, essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the object or substance has contingently, without...

 hearken back to the ancient Greek hylomorphic understanding of the formation of the things of this world. According to that account, the structure and real existence of any thing can be understood by analogy to an artifact produced by a craftsman. The craftsman requires hyle (timber or wood) and a model, plan or idea in his own mind according to which the wood is worked to give it the indicated contour or form (morphe). Aristotle was the first to use the terms hyle and morphe. According to his explanation
Metaphysics (Aristotle)
Metaphysics is one of the principal works of Aristotle and the first major work of the branch of philosophy with the same name. The principal subject is "being qua being", or being understood as being. It examines what can be asserted about anything that exists just because of its existence and...

, all entities have two aspects, "matter" and "form". It is the particular form imposed that gives some matter its identity, its quiddity
Quiddity
In scholastic philosophy, quiddity was another term for the essence of an object, literally its "whatness," or "what it is." The term derives from the Latin word "quidditas," which was used by the medieval scholastics as a literal translation of the equivalent term in Aristotle's Greek.It...

 or "whatness" (i.e., its "what it is").

Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 was one of the first essentialists, believing in the concept of ideal forms, an abstract entity of which individual objects are mere facsimilies. To give an example; the ideal form of a circle is a perfect circle, something that is physically impossible to make manifest, yet the circles that we draw and observe clearly have some idea in common — this idea is the ideal form. Plato believed that these ideas are eternal and vastly superior to their manifestations in the world, and that we understand these manifestations in the material world by comparing and relating them to their respective ideal form. Plato's forms are regarded as patriarchs to essentialist dogma simply because they are a case of what is intrinsic and a-contextual of objects — the abstract properties that makes them what they are. For more on forms, read Plato's parable of the cave.

Karl Popper
Karl Popper
Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH FRS FBA was an Austro-British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics...

 splits the ambiguous term realism
Philosophical realism
Contemporary philosophical realism is the belief that our reality, or some aspect of it, is ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc....

into essentialism and realism. He uses essentialism whenever he means the opposite of nominalism
Nominalism
Nominalism is a metaphysical view in philosophy according to which general or abstract terms and predicates exist, while universals or abstract objects, which are sometimes thought to correspond to these terms, do not exist. Thus, there are at least two main versions of nominalism...

, and realism only as opposed to idealism
Idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

. Popper himself is a realist as opposed to an idealist, but a methodological nominalist as opposed to an essentialist. For example, statements like "a puppy is a young dog" should be read from right to left, as an answer to "What shall we call a young dog"; never from left to right as an answer to "What is a puppy?"

Metaphysical essentialism


Essentialism, in its broadest sense, is any philosophy that acknowledges the primacy of Essence. Unlike Existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

, which posits "being" as the fundamental reality, the essentialist ontology must be approached from a metaphysical perspective. Empirical knowledge is developed from experience of a relational universe whose components and attributes are defined and measured in terms of intellectually constructed laws. Thus, for the scientist, reality is explored as an evolutionary system of diverse entities, the order of which is determined by the principle of causality. Because Essentialism is a conceptual worldview that is not dependent on objective facts and measurements, it is not limited to empirical understanding or the objective way of looking at things. Just as Eastern mysticism
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 teaches that reality is more than what the rational mind can formulate analytically from observing the nature of "otherness", the essentialist ontology transcends self/other dualism to define the undivided source — the ineffable Oneness alluded to in Eastern Philosophy.

Despite the metaphysical basis for the term, academics in science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, aesthetics
Aesthetics
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

, heuristics, psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, and gender-based sociological studies have all seen fit to advance their disparate and sundry causes under the banner of Essentialism. Possibly the clearest definition for this philosophy was offered by gay/lesbian rights advocate Diana Fuss, who wrote: "Essentialism is most commonly understood as a belief in the real, true essence of things, the invariable and fixed properties [of] which define the 'whatness' of a given entity". Metaphysical essentialism stands diametrically opposed to existential realism in that finite existence is only differentiated appearance, whereas "ultimate reality" is held to be absolute essence.

Although the Greek philosophers believed that the true nature of the universe was perfect, they attributed the observed imperfections to man's limited perception. For Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, this meant that there had to be two different realities: the "essential" and the "perceived". Plato's dialectical protégé Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 (384-322 B.C.) applied the term "essence" to the one common characteristic that all things belonging to a particular category have in common and without which they could not be members of that category; hence, the idea of rationality as the essence of man. This notion carried over into all facets of reality, including species of living creatures. For contemporary essentialists, however, the characteristic that all existents have in common is the power to exist, and this potentiality defines the "uncreated" Essence.

It was the Egyptian-born philosopher Plotinus
Plotinus
Plotinus was a major philosopher of the ancient world. In his system of theory there are the three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition...

 [270-204 B.C.] who brought Greek Idealism to the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 as Neo-Platonism, and with it the concept that not only do all existents emanate from a "primary essence" but that the mind plays an active role in shaping or ordering the objects of perception, rather than passively receiving experiential data. But with the Empire's fall to the Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 in A.D. 476, Neo-Platonism gave way to the spread of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, leaving Aristotle's multiple "essences" unchallenged to dominate philosophical thought throughout the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 on into the modern era of scientific objectivism.

In psychology


Essentialism has emerged as an important concept in psychology, particularly developmental psychology
Developmental psychology
Developmental psychology, also known as human development, is the scientific study of systematic psychological changes, emotional changes, and perception changes that occur in human beings over the course of their life span. Originally concerned with infants and children, the field has expanded to...

. Here, theorists distinguish between metaphysical essentialism (see above) and psychological essentialism, the latter referring not to an actual claim about the world but a claim about a characteristic way of construing entities in the world. Influential in this area is Susan Gelman
Susan Gelman
Susan Gelman is a Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on the topics of cognitive development, language acquisition, categorization, inductive reasoning, causal reasoning, and relationships between language and thought...

, who has outlined many domains in which children and adults construe classes of entities, particularly biological entities, in essentialist terms—i.e., as if they had an immutable underlying essence which can be used to predict unobserved similarities between members of that class. Others have suggested that social categories such as race come to be essentialized due to an over-extension of this biological mode of thinking.Paul Bloom of Yale University has stated that "one of the most exciting ideas in cognitive science is the theory that people have a default assumption that things, people and events have invisible essences that make them what they are. Experimental psychologists have argued that essentialism underlies our understanding of the physical and social worlds, and developmental and cross-cultural psychologists have proposed that it is instinctive and universal. We are natural-born essentialists."

In ethics


Classical Essentialism claims that some things are wrong in an absolute sense, for example murder breaks a universal, objective and natural moral law and not merely an adventitious, socially or ethically constructed one.

Many modern essentialists claim that right and wrong are moral boundaries which are individually constructed. In other words, things that are ethically right or wrong are actions that the individual deems to be beneficial or harmful.

In biology


It is often held that before evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 was developed as a scientific theory
Scientific theory
A scientific theory comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules that express relationships between observations of such concepts...

, there existed an essentialist view of biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

 that posited all species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 to be unchanging throughout time. Some religious opponents of evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 continue to maintain this view of biology (see creation-evolution controversy
Creation-evolution controversy
The creation–evolution controversy is a recurring cultural, political, and theological dispute about the origins of the Earth, humanity, life, and the universe....

).

Recent work by historians of systematics
Systematics
Biological systematics is the study of the diversification of terrestrial life, both past and present, and the relationships among living things through time. Relationships are visualized as evolutionary trees...

 has, however, cast doubt upon this view. Mary P. Winsor, Ron Amundson and Staffan Müller-Wille have each argued that in fact the usual suspects (such as Linnaeus and the Ideal Morphologists) were very far from being essentialists, and it appears that the so-called "essentialism story" (or "myth") in biology is a result of conflating the views expressed by philosophers from Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 onwards through to John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

 and William Whewell
William Whewell
William Whewell was an English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.-Life and career:Whewell was born in Lancaster...

 in the immediately pre-Darwinian period, using biological examples, with the use of terms in biology like species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

.

Essentialism and society and politics


The essentialist view on gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, or other group characteristics is that they are fixed traits, discounting variation among group members as secondary.

Contemporary proponents of identity politics
Identity politics
Identity politics are political arguments that focus upon the self interest and perspectives of self-identified social interest groups and ways in which people's politics may be shaped by aspects of their identity through race, class, religion, sexual orientation or traditional dominance...

, including feminism
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

, gay rights, and/or racial equality activists, generally take constructionist viewpoints,. For example, they agree with Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir
Simone-Ernestine-Lucie-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir, often shortened to Simone de Beauvoir , was a French existentialist philosopher, public intellectual, and social theorist. She wrote novels, essays, biographies, an autobiography in several volumes, and monographs on philosophy, politics, and...

 that "one is not born, but becomes a woman". However, this is a complicated issue. As 'essence' implies permanence, essentialist thinking tends towards political conservatism
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 and opposes social change.
Essentialist claims have provided useful rallying-points for radical politics, including feminist, anti-racist, and anti-colonial struggles. In a culture saturated with essentialist modes of thinking, an ironic or strategic essentialism
Strategic essentialism
Strategic essentialism is a major concept in postcolonial theory. The term was coined by the Indian literary critic and theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. It refers to a strategy that nationalities, ethnic groups or minority groups can use to present themselves...

 can sometimes be politically expedient.

In social thought, metaphysical essentialism is often conflated with biological reductionism
Reductionism
Reductionism can mean either an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can...

. Most sociologists, for example, employ a distinction between biological sex
Sex
In biology, sex is a process of combining and mixing genetic traits, often resulting in the specialization of organisms into a male or female variety . Sexual reproduction involves combining specialized cells to form offspring that inherit traits from both parents...

 and gender role
Gender role
Gender roles refer to the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex in the context of a specific culture, which differ widely between cultures and over time...

. Similar distinctions across disciplines generally fall under the division of "nature versus nurture
Nature versus nurture
The nature versus nurture debate concerns the relative importance of an individual's innate qualities versus personal experiences The nature versus nurture debate concerns the relative importance of an individual's innate qualities ("nature," i.e. nativism, or innatism) versus personal experiences...

". However, this conflation can be contested. For example, Monique Wittig
Monique Wittig
Monique Wittig was a French author and feminist theorist who wrote about overcoming socially enforced gender roles and who coined the phrase "heterosexual contract". She published her first novel, L'Opoponax, in 1964...

 has argued that even biological sex is not an essence, and that the body's physiology is "caught up" in processes of social construction.

In history


Essentialism is used by some historians in listing essential cultural characteristics of a particular nation or culture. A people can be understood in this way. In other cases, the essentialist method has been used by members, or admirers, of an historical community to establish a praiseworthy national identity. Contrastingly, many historians reject essentialism as a form of determinism
Determinism
Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen. There are many versions of this thesis. Each of them rests upon various alleged connections, and interdependencies of things and...

 and prefer to contextualize cultural tropes within a broader lens of historical cause and effect.

See also

  • Social constructionism
    Social constructionism
    Social constructionism and social constructivism are sociological theories of knowledge that consider how social phenomena or objects of consciousness develop in social contexts. A social construction is a concept or practice that is the construct of a particular group...

     (an anti-essentialist position)
  • Structuralism
    Structuralism
    Structuralism originated in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague and Moscow schools of linguistics. Just as structural linguistics was facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance in linguistics, structuralism...

  • Poststructuralism
  • Traditionalist School
    Traditionalist School
    The term Traditionalist School is used by Mark Sedgwick and other authors to denote a school of thought, also known as Integral Traditionalism or Perennialism to denote an esoteric movement developed by authors such as French metaphysician René Guénon, German-Swiss...

  • Educational essentialism
    Educational essentialism
    Educational essentialism is an educational philosophy whose adherents believe that children should learn the traditional basic subjects thoroughly and rigorously. In this philosophical school of thought, the aim is to instill students with the "essentials" of academic knowledge, enacting a...

  • Vitalism
    Vitalism
    Vitalism, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is#a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from biochemical reactions...


Further reading


  • Runes, Dagobert D. (1972) Dictionary of Philosophy (Littlefield, Adams & Co.). See for instance the articles on "Essence", pg.97; "Quiddity", pg.262; "Form", pg.110; "Hylomorphism", pg.133; "Individuation", pg.145; and "Matter", pg.191.
  • Barrett, H. C. (2001). On the functional origins of essentialism. Mind and Society, 3, Vol. 2, 1–30.
  • Sayer, Andrew (August 1997) "Essentialism, Social Constructionism, and Beyond", Sociological Review 45 : 456.
  • Oderberg, David S. (2007) Real Essentialism New York, Routledge.