Reductionistic Approach

Jump to: navigation, search

A Reductionistic Approach is an analytical approach that analyzes a complex system by describing the individual constituents.



  • (Wikipedia, 2014) ⇒ Retrieved:2014-9-27.
    • Reductionism is a philosophical position which holds that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents. [1] This can be said of objects, phenomena, explanation, theories, and meanings. [2] Reductionism strongly reflects a certain perspective on causality. In a reductionist framework, the phenomena that can be explained completely in terms of relations between other more fundamental phenomena, are called epiphenomena. Often there is an implication that the epiphenomenon exerts no causal agency on the fundamental phenomena that explain it. Reductionism does not preclude the existence of what might be called emergent phenomena, but it does imply the ability to understand those phenomena completely in terms of the processes from which they are composed. This reductionist understanding is very different from that usually implied by the term 'emergence', which typically intends that what emerges is more than the sum of the processes from which it emerges. Religious reductionism generally attempts to explain religion by boiling it down to certain nonreligious causes. A few examples of reductionistic explanations for the presence of religion are: that religion can be reduced to humanity's conceptions of right and wrong, that religion is fundamentally a primitive attempt at controlling our environments, that religion is a way to explain the existence of a physical world, and that religion confers an enhanced survivability for members of a group and so is reinforced by natural selection. [3] Anthropologists Edward Burnett Tylor and James George Frazer employed some [[Metatheories of religion in the social sciences#Edward Burnett Tylor and James George Frazer|religious reductionist arguments]]. [4] Sigmund Freud held that religion is nothing more than an illusion, or even a mental illness, and Marx claimed that religion is "the sigh of the oppressed," and the opium of the people providing only "the illusory happiness of the people," thus providing two influential examples of reductionistic views against the idea of religion.
  1. See e.g. Reductionism in the Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science.
  2. For reductionism referred to explanations, theories, and meanings, see Willard Van Orman Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism. Quine objected to the positivistic, reductionist "belief that each meaningful statement is equivalent to some logical construct upon terms which refer to immediate experience" as an intractable problem.
  4. Strenski, Ivan. "Classic Twentieth-Century Theorist of the Study of Religion: Defending the Inner Sanctum of Religious Experience or Storming It." Pages 176–209 in Thinking About Religion: An Historical Introduction to Theories of Religion. Malden: Blackwell, 2006.