ra·​tio·​nal·​ism | \ ˈrash-nə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce rationalism (audio) , ˈra-shə-nə-ˌli- \

Definition of rationalism

1 : reliance on reason as the basis for establishment of religious truth
2a : a theory that reason is in itself a source of knowledge superior to and independent of sense perceptions
b : a view that reason and experience rather than the nonrational are the fundamental criteria in the solution of problems

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Other Words from rationalism

rationalist \ ˈrash-​nə-​list How to pronounce rationalism (audio) , ˈra-​shə-​nə-​list \ noun
rationalist or rationalistic \ ˌrash-​nə-​ˈli-​tik How to pronounce rationalism (audio) , ˌra-​shə-​nə-​ˈli-​ \ adjective
rationalistically \ ˌrash-​nə-​ˈli-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce rationalism (audio) , ˌra-​shə-​nə-​ˈli-​ \ adverb

Examples of rationalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web China has held an internal debate between economic rationalism and economic nationalism for over 40 years, with nationalism gaining under President Xi Jinping. Frank Lavin, Forbes, 10 Sep. 2021 His orthodox Christian rationalism has inspired innumerable other modern writers, including T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, Étienne Gilson, Buckley, and Malcolm Muggeridge. M. D. Aeschliman, National Review, 8 Aug. 2021 Secularists replace religious faith with naturalism, rationalism and empiricism. Star Tribune, 15 July 2021 Despite these indications of post-humanist scientific rationalism, Galileo had deep connections to humanism. Jessica Riskin, The New York Review of Books, 23 Feb. 2021 The path is marked by big breaks, family scars and scares, three golden retrievers, a dislike of coffee and the secret sauce that helped him become the voice of reason in a sport whose fans often resist rationalism. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, 31 Dec. 2020 There's also a psychology term called rationalism, which people often confuse with denial. Megan Marples, CNN, 16 Aug. 2020 By 1865 Lincoln had substituted rationalism and fatalism for the predestination theology of his Kentucky forebears at Little Pigeon Creek Baptist Church. The Economist, 27 Feb. 2020 These are knee-jerk would-be Christian reactions in a culture which, generations back, embraced rationalism: everything must have an explanation. N.t. Wright, Time, 29 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rationalism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of rationalism

circa 1732, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for rationalism

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The first known use of rationalism was circa 1732

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Last Updated

18 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rationalism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rationalism. Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of rationalism

: the belief that reason and experience and not emotions or religious beliefs should be the basis for your actions, opinions, etc.

More from Merriam-Webster on rationalism

Britannica English: Translation of rationalism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about rationalism


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