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a 19th- and early 20th-century philosophical trend that claimed to enrich man's apprehension of life by expanding it beyond the rational to its fuller dimensions. Rooted either in metaphysics or in an awareness of the uniqueness of human experience, irrationalism stressed the dimensions of instinct, feeling, and will as over and against reason. The term is used chiefly by continental European philosophers, who regard irrationalism as one of several strong currents flowing into the 20th century.