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The philosophical tenet that objects and classes of objects have essential and not merely accidental characteristics.

es·sen′tial·ist adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Philosophy) philosophy one of a number of related doctrines which hold that there are necessary properties of things, that these are logically prior to the existence of the individuals which instantiate them, and that their classification depends upon their satisfaction of sets of necessary conditions
2. (Education) the doctrine that education should concentrate on teaching basic skills and encouraging intellectual self-discipline
esˈsentialist n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(əˈsɛn ʃəˌlɪz əm)

an educational doctrine advocating the teaching of culturally important concepts, ideals, and skills to all students, regardless of individual ability, needs, etc. Compare progressivism.
es•sen′tial•ist, n., adj.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a philosophical theory asserting that metaphysical essences are real and intuitively accessible.
2. a philosophical theory giving priority to the inward nature, true substance, or constitution of something over its existence. Cf. existentialism.essentialist, n.essentialistic, adj.
See also: Philosophy
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Even if we regard Beardsley and Danto as essentialists in other senses, it would be hard to deny their anti-essentialism in this very weak sense.(6) However, the point of distinguishing this sense is not to try to find a definition of anti-essentialism that covers all analytic aestheticians and so may be proposed as a definitional criterion.
Unlike Kirsch, however, McAlindon sensibly refuses to grind the polemical axe, and he avoids the pitfalls of a sterile debate between essentialists and relativists by a shrewd ackmowledgement of the plays' embeddedness in contemporary English history.
Locke's advice to racial and cultural essentialists regardless of their color was quite direct: "...
So the essentialists were right after all, one might conclude on learning that in many species there's evidence of sexual orientation and even same-sex pair-bonding.
As opposed to the "essentialists" who are lining up behind Robert Bly's Iron John, Rotundo weighs in mightily with those who believe that gender is socially constructed.
The contemporary theoretical discourse between essentialists and social constructionists resonates in the context of the rapidly developing field of lesbian history.
Given that Essentialism is a fundamentally egoistic, life-serving philosophy, readers may be struck by the fact that McKeown seems to regard people such as Moses, Muhammad, and Mother Teresa as Essentialists, even though they preached philosophies antithetical to self-interest.
Essentialists invest time in creating a system for easy execution.
Like other gender essentialists, Terrance believes that hormones directly produce two distinct gender expressions of emotional grief.
Schocket's central thesis is that the battle over what the founding means today pits "essentialists" against "organicists." Essentialists believe the American Revolution was "led by demigods, resulting in an inspired governmental structure and leaving a legacy from which straying would be treason and result in the nation's ruin." Essentialists propose that there's a single, objective truth about the founding that acts as a reservoir from which we can draw lessons about modern politics.
In the face of information overload, he suggests, we need to commit fully to the few things that matter to us; to become, in his words, 'essentialists'.
Feminist theologians and theorists rightly note that the identification of alterity has been the domain of men, thereby reinforcing both static iterations of ontological inequity within essentialists paradigms, while concurrently justifying social, ecclesiastical, and ontological "complementarity" as fundamentally inscribed in "nature" and in accord with the divine will.