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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 ?
1 (Sailey, 1-25), makes it clear that eremitism is the preferred option because office-holding is risky business.
The book is a chronological, developmental study of the evolution of the "eremitic tradition" in China, and Vervoorn believes that while the Wei-Jin period (220-420) might be called "the golden age of Chinese eremitism," "most of the essential developments in Chinese eremitism occurred before the end of the Han dynasty" (p.
by the end of the Han dynasty most of the major aspects of the Chinese eremitic tradition had already taken shape: the varieties of eremitism and their philosophical rationales, the place of eremitism in the scholarly culture and its integration in the imperial system, as well as the high social standing of hermits and their political influence, were all well established before the Han dynasty came to a close (pp.
Thus exemplary eremitism was functional as well as abstract, and became a prevailing ideal of model conduct among most of the educated community.
contain a considerable amount of material relating to eremitism which cannot be examined in detail here" (p.
According to Vervoorn, Gong Sheng "actually embodies [the] shift from the exemplary but rather theoretical Confucian eremitism of the last part of the Former Han to the equally exemplary but deadly serious Confucian eremitism of the Wang Mang period and its aftermath" (p.
It was Confucius who formulated that alternative conception, and that is the reason why eremitism in China really began with Confucius.
This in a nutshell is "the pivotal role of Confucius"; it gave rise immediately to the basic precepts of resignation from office to avoid moral compromise, and later to "exemplary eremitism.
Particularly in the second half of the Later Han period, exemplary eremitism was fashionable, and the compelling power of fashion combined with other factors to make eremitism at times almost obligatory.
Eremitism at Court" is "the ideal of eremitism as a state of mind", primarily derived from "Zhuangzi's philosophy".
7 He notes that "it is the strong influence of Daoism under the Wei and Jin dynasties which account for the prevalence of eremitism among the intellectuals of that period".