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(anchoritism), rejection of communication with other people for religious reasons; an eremite retreats to a desert. In antiquity, eremitism was a sporadic phenomenon in Judaism (among the Essenes) and among the followers of the philosophical schools of the late classical era (the Neoplatonists). It is a more widespread phenomenon in the religions of India, China, Japan, and other Oriental countries (such as Buddhism and Taoism).

Eremitism attained particular development among the Christians. It originated in Christianity in the third century in the Egyptian deserts as an escape from the persecution of the Roman emperors. The first of the well-known Christian eremites was Paul of Thebes, who retreated to the desert to escape the persecution of the Christians by the emperor Decius. In the early fourth century, Christian eremites, following the example of Anthony the Great, Pachomius, and other ascetics, retreated to the Egyptian desert of Thebes. In the same century, eremitism spread to Palestine, Cappadocia, and Armenia and then to Gaul, Spain, and Italy.

During the Middle Ages, eremitism was gradually supplanted by monasticism. The church aided the process by striving to replace eremitism, which was inaccessible to church control, with the organized forms of monasticism.

References in periodicals archive ?
No statement could more clearly depict the very different concept of eremitism in Chinese culture as compared to Buddhism and Christianity.
The concept of Chinese eremitism continues in the present.
Eremitism for many in China was and remains choosing avocation over vocation.
In part I, the author deals with Syrian asceticism before the rise of eremitism.
162) Finally, Ying Shao also accepts the Classic of Filial Piety's injunction to "keep oneself intact" under almost any circumstances, since the "body, hair, and skin are received from one's parents," while he inexplicably rejects the application of that phrase to justify most forms of eremitism, which he tends to equate with a denial of the "normal" familial and bureaucratic obligations of the shih.
The growth of eremitism among Eastern Han shih, although usually attributed to the growth of religious Taoism among the common people, is equally likely to have stemmed from some recognition among the gentry of the sheer impossibility of prioritizing individual duties, when so many claimants to "absolute loyalty" existed within a single bureaucratic and social structure.
74 I suggest below that eremitism also occurred when the individual found himself unable to decide between conflicting goals of equal weight.
14) On "exemplary eremitism," see Vervoorn, Men of the Cliffs and Caves, 116-25, 139, 233.
w]e can go some way towards understanding eremitism by considering it as a series of strategies for reconciling conflicting ideals in such a way as to make those ideals attainable.
In a number of places Vervoorn astutely points out parallels between reclusion in China and reclusion in the Western tradition; Chinese eremitism, however, is predominantly non-religious in character.
The nature of the sources for the pre-Han period leads him rightly to focus discussion not on the lives or motives of individual legendary "hermits" (whose historicity is all too problematic), but on the philosophical and socio-political circumstances that gave rise to the various philosophies of eremitism; the pre-Confucian period, then, is sort of a pre-history of eremitism.
It was Confucius who formulated that alternative conception, and that is the reason why eremitism in China really began with Confucius.