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nominalism

[nom-uh-nl-iz-uh m] /ˈnɒm ə nlˌɪz əm/
noun
1.
(in medieval philosophy) the doctrine that general or abstract words do not stand for objectively existing entities and that universals are no more than names assigned to them.
Compare conceptualism, realism (def 5a).
Origin
1830-1840
1830-40; < French nominalisme. See nominal, -ism
Related forms
nominalist, noun
nominalistic, adjective
nominalistically, adverb
nonnominalistic, adjective
unnominalistic, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for nominalistic

nominalism

/ˈnɒmɪnəˌlɪzəm/
noun
1.
the philosophical theory that the variety of objects to which a single general word, such as dog, applies have nothing in common but the name Compare conceptualism, realism
Derived Forms
nominalist, noun, adjective
nominalistic, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for nominalistic

nominalism

n.

1820, "view that treats abstract concepts as names only, not realities," from French nominalisme (1752), from nominal, from Latin nominalis (see nominal). Related: Nominalist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for nominalistic

nominalism

in philosophy, position taken in the dispute over universals-words that can be applied to individual things having something in common-that flourished especially in late medieval times. Nominalism denied the real being of universals on the ground that the use of a general word (e.g., "humanity") does not imply the existence of a general thing named by it. The nominalist position did not necessarily deny, however, that there must be some similarity between the particular things to which the general word is applied. Thoroughgoing nominalists would withhold this concession, as Roscelin, a medieval nominalist, is said to have done. But unless such similarity is granted, the application of general words to particulars is made to appear entirely arbitrary. Such stricter forms of nominalism as existed in the Middle Ages can perhaps be viewed as reactions against Platonic realism, on which some enthusiasts, such as Guillaume de Champeaux, based the opinion that universals had real being. The realist position invited a defensive alliance between empiricism and nominalism; the most notable medieval example of such a synthesis was the work of William of Ockham.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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