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

Examples of rationalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

For critics like John Gray, the Enlightenment’s self-satisfied rationalism and belief in progress were bound to fuel notions of racial and civilizational hierarchy, and can be linked to twentieth-century totalitarianism. Kwame Anthony Appiah, The New York Review of Books, "Dialectics of Enlightenment," 9 May 2019 And its toll continues: liberal rationalism is, in Gray’s view, an impoverished creed that has asphyxiated richer forms of life. Kwame Anthony Appiah, The New York Review of Books, "Dialectics of Enlightenment," 9 May 2019 With people of faith squaring off against those who believe in scientific rationalism, just put the politics aside. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "England's Baby Alfie and the politics of life," 27 Apr. 2018 His rationalism must be seen within a wider context. Eric Ormsby, WSJ, "Why History Goes in Circles," 16 Mar. 2018 This passionate defense of the Enlightenment ideals of scientific rationalism and secular humanism argues that human progress is a measurable fact and that the current moment is the best ever. Olivia De Recat, The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 14 Mar. 2018 But rationalism has provided a new spin on this old debate. James Romm, WSJ, "Review: Rome’s Cosmic Retribution," 27 Oct. 2017 Mary, living in the world of Galvanism, industrial and democratic revolution, and the newfound delight in rationalism, was able to give us a golem without resorting to the supernatural. Cory Doctorow, Slate Magazine, "I’ve Created a Monster!," 22 May 2017 Hustvedt rejects the sterile rationalism of the dualists. Katy Waldman, Slate Magazine, "Siri Hustvedt’s preening essays take their author’s own brilliance as their main subject.," 13 Jan. 2017

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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Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for rationalism

The first known use of rationalism was circa 1732

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English Language Learners Definition of rationalism

philosophy : 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rationalism

Britannica English: Translation of rationalism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about rationalism

Comments on rationalism

What made you want to look up rationalism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


readily or continually undergoing change

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