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formalism

[fawr-muh-liz-uh m] /ˈfɔr məˌlɪz əm/
noun
1.
strict adherence to, or observance of, prescribed or traditional forms, as in music, poetry, and art.
2.
Religion. strong attachment to external forms and observances.
3.
Ethics. a doctrine that acts are in themselves right or wrong regardless of consequences.
4.
Logic, Mathematics. a doctrine, which evolved from a proposal of David Hilbert, that mathematics, including the logic used in proofs, can be based on the formal manipulation of symbols without regard to their meaning.
Origin
1830-1840
1830-40; formal1 + -ism
Related forms
formalist, noun, adjective
formalistic, adjective
formalistically, adverb
antiformalist, noun, adjective
nonformalism, noun
nonformalistic, adjective
unformalistic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for formalism
  • Even in offhanded conversation, he sculpts phrases with the elegant formalism of a master coder.
  • Dogma, rigidly prescribed by tradition, stiffens into formalism.
  • Examines the physics behind the mathematical formalism of the theory of relativity.
  • After a while, you realize that the film is a case of ersatz formalism disguising chaos.
  • The loss-consciousness of these poems changes the meaning of their formalism.
  • Clearly the presentation here is aimed toward goading people into testing their formalism, and to see if it has any utility.
  • But one kind of mathematical formalism, called non-Abelian gauge theory, had not yet been tried.
  • They cannot even be sure that their formalism includes a description of such things as protons and electrons.
  • That's a clear retreat into formalism, not an exploration of logic.
  • And such bad anatomy offers no support one way or the other for theories about literary formalism.
British Dictionary definitions for formalism

formalism

/ˈfɔːməˌlɪzəm/
noun
1.
scrupulous or excessive adherence to outward form at the expense of inner reality or content
2.
  1. the mathematical or logical structure of a scientific argument as distinguished from its subject matter
  2. the notation, and its structure, in which information is expressed
3.
(theatre) a stylized mode of production
4.
(in Marxist criticism) excessive concern with artistic technique at the expense of social values, etc
5.
the philosophical theory that a mathematical statement has no meaning but that its symbols, regarded as physical objects, exhibit a structure that has useful applications Compare logicism, intuitionism
Derived Forms
formalist, noun
formalistic, adjective
formalistically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for formalism
n.

1840, "strict adherence to prescribed forms," from formal + -ism. Attested from 1943 in reference to the Russian literary movement (1916-30). Related: Formalist; formalistic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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