follow Dictionary.com

It’s about time. We are now on Instagram!

reductionism

[ri-duhk-shuh-niz-uh m] /rɪˈdʌk ʃəˌnɪz əm/
noun
1.
the theory that every complex phenomenon, especially in biology or psychology, can be explained by analyzing the simplest, most basic physical mechanisms that are in operation during the phenomenon.
2.
the practice of simplifying a complex idea, issue, condition, or the like, especially to the point of minimizing, obscuring, or distorting it.
Origin
1940-1945
1940-45; reduction + -ism
Related forms
reductionist, noun, adjective
reductionistic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for reductionist
  • Genomics' reductionist approach has become more holistic.
  • Abrams has taken this reductionist approach before on our site.
  • Biology has made extraordinary progress over the last century by following a relentlessly reductionist road.
  • They rejected and attacked the prevailing atomistic, or reductionist, approaches to perception.
  • The reductionist paradigm is of course heavily resisted in certain quarters.
  • The dry, reductionist, what-percent-have-cough and what-percent-have-fever lists in medical texts will put you to sleep.
  • The reductionist approach leads inevitably to explaining mind by neurons, neurons by chemistry, and chemistry by physics.
  • We will be approaching the reductionist basis of our individuality.
  • Although reductionist is often used as a derogatory term, science is reductionist by definition.
British Dictionary definitions for reductionist

reductionism

/rɪˈdʌkʃəˌnɪzəm/
noun
1.
the analysis of complex things, data, etc, into less complex constituents
2.
(often derogatory) any theory or method that holds that a complex idea, system, etc, can be completely understood in terms of its simpler parts or components
Derived Forms
reductionist, noun, adjective
reductionistic, adjective
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for reductionist
n.

1861 and after in various senses, from reduction + -ist. Philosophical sense, related to reductionism is from 1934.

reductionism

n.

1948, in philosophy, from reduction in specialized sense in philosophy (1914) + -ism. Related: Reductionist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for reductionist

reductionism

in philosophy, a view that asserts that entities of a given kind are collections or combinations of entities of a simpler or more basic kind or that expressions denoting such entities are definable in terms of expressions denoting the more basic entities. Thus, the ideas that physical bodies are collections of atoms or that thoughts are combinations of sense impressions are forms of reductionism.

Learn more about reductionism with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for reductionism

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for reductionist

15
0
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with reductionist