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The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods

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The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods

Lisa M. Given

Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2008 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412963909 | Print ISBN: 9781412941631 | Online ISBN: 9781412963909 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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Nonessentialism

Gary Rolfe

Nonessentialism is a philosophical doctrine that stands in opposition to the philosophy of essentialism. Briefly, essentialists argue that an object or concept can be defined in terms of certain core or essential properties that it must possess and that make it what it is. When applied to people, essentialism argues that human thoughts, feelings, and behavior can be understood in terms of a common human nature (a view sometimes referred to as humanism), or in the case of religious essentialism, that people are created with or for a predetermined purpose. Taken at its literal meaning, nonessentialism argues that there is no essence or set of common, predetermined qualities belonging to entities in the world. The philosophy of nonessentialism has been in existence for as long as essentialism, which it attempts to deny (in its weak sense) or refute (in its stronger sense of antiessentialism). As a modern philosophical movement, however, ...

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