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An attempt or tendency to explain a complex set of facts, entities, phenomena, or structures by another, simpler set: "Science requires some degree of reductionism, some picking apart and focusing on one or two variables at a time" (Natalie Angier).

re·duc′tion·ist adj. & n.
re·duc′tion·is′tic adj.


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
reˈductionist n, adj
reˌductionˈistic adj


(rɪˈdʌk ʃəˌnɪz əm)

1. the theory that every complex phenomenon, esp. 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 oversimplifying a complex idea or issue to the point of minimizing or distorting it.
re•duc′tion•ist, n., adj.
re•duc`tion•is′tic, adj.


The attempt to explain complex phenomena in terms of simple laws or principles.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.reductionism - a theory that all complex systems can be completely understood in terms of their components
theory - a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"
2.reductionism - the analysis of complex things into simpler constituents
analytic thinking, analysis - the abstract separation of a whole into its constituent parts in order to study the parts and their relations


nReduktionismus m
References in periodicals archive ?
But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against -- the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil or, if you will, the righteous and sinners," Francis said.
Natural philosophy is the discipline that helps us to understand what it means for something to be alive and can allow us to criticize various versions of mechanism, materialism, reductionism, and theories of emergence.
The book contains a lengthy discussion of reductionism in research and why the inherent limitations of looking at smaller and smaller pieces of the nutritional pie can mislead our understanding of the complex whole.
There was a strong undertone of philosophy to her comedy, which I'd have to call illogical reductionism (if there is such a thing.
Within the framework of an Aristotelian naturalism Pinkard demonstrates that Hegel can avoid both dualism and scientific reductionism in conceptualizing the relation of mind to nature.
April 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- UBM Medica US announces that a newly published special report in Psychiatric Times - the nation's best-read psychiatric publication - delves into how literature, art and other offerings in the humanities can counter reductionism and help psychiatrists uncover each patient's subjectivity and individuality.
Given its reductionism, CTA has appeared to be a promising strategy to naturalists for showing how desirable features of human agency are compatible with this framework.
George Engel made a landmark contribution to medicine when he argued against biological reductionism.
This second thesis might seem to fail if reductionism in ethics is true.
I find much of his statement to be generalizing without attentiveness to the differences made in specific texts (rather like the generalizing of Joseph Campbell in other directions) and yielding a reductionism in which one size fits all.
3) reductionism and competition, 4) Jesus being real smart; and 5) actual differences vs.
A related issue, unexplored in early-period scholarship but taken up by Siderits, is mereological (part/whole) reductionism, the idea that all conditioned phenomena that appear to be substantive wholes do not ultimately exist as such, that is, as anything beyond their aggregated parts.