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Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the designation for idealistic currents in philosophy that, as opposed to rationalism, restrict or deny the possibilities of reason in cognition and base their understanding of the world on something irrational, that is, inaccessible to reason or alien to it, asserting the illogical and irrational character of existence itself. The concept “irrationalism” refers to all the different philosophical systems and currents that accentuate one or another aspect of man’s spiritual life that lie outside the rational, such as will (in voluntarism), direct contemplation, feeling, and intuition (in intuitionism), mystical “illumination,” imagination, instinct, or the “unconscious.” All religious and religiophilosophical teachings are in their basic content irration-alistic, even though in their further interpretation they use the forms of rational thinking.

Irrationalism, with its deprecation or negation of rational cognition, must be distinguished from agnosticism, which asserts the complete and fundamental impossibility of objective knowledge of the world.

Irrationalist currents in the most general sense can be traced through the entire history of philosophy: they are characteristic, for example, of medieval mysticism, which, in contrast to the rationalistic claims of Scholasticism, saw the way to attaining god in suprarational contemplation and feeling. Irrationalism in the narrow sense of the term designates those currents of bourgeois philosophy that developed in opposition to modern rationalism. For example, there are the “philosophy of feeling and faith” of F. H. Jacobi, which opposes Enlightenment rationalism, the “philosophy of revelation” of F. W. von Schelling’s last period, the voluntaristic conceptions of A. Schopenhauer (Germany), and the doctrines of S. Kierkegaard (Denmark), which are a unique reaction to the idealistic rationalism of German classical philosophy and, in particular, Hegelian panlogism. The most prominent irrationalists in the mid-19th century were F. Nietzsche, the founder of the philosophy of life, and E. Hart-mann (Germany), with his “philosophy of the unconscious.”

Irrationalist tendencies spread widely because of the crisis of bourgeois society and its culture in the late 19th and early 20th century. Irrationalism is particularly apparent in such currents as the philosophy of life (W. Dilthey, Germany; H. Bergson, France) and existentialism (M. Heidegger, Germany), but irrationalistic currents are also typical of other directions of modern bourgeois philosophy (for example, some varieties of neopositivism). Irrationalism is in direct contradiction to Marxist-Leninist philosophy, which takes a scientific and materialistic world view.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
For instance, there is no dialog between New History, post-structuralism or post-modernity, as it will soon be perceived, and even less a demonstration of what would be the irrationalism of these trends in terms of theory or philosophy of history.
(208) According to Bird, Kuhn can consequently use the social history of science to provide an internal account of science: "even in Kuhn's account of scientific revolutions the factors that influence decisions are predominantly internal to science." (215-216) Furthermore, the supposed irrationalism in Kuhn's view of scientific change is based on taking Kuhn's social history of science as an externalist account of scientific change.
Then, however, the "rough beast" of fascism's populist irrationalism challenged both until defeat in the Second World War.
However, this is not simply a fideistic retreat into irrationalism. in the case of the book's response to skepticism, as in most others, the authors have already discussed skepticism philosophically (5) and provided a number of purely philosophical responses to it.
Therefore, these two men sought to immunize human beings through an approach which perceives the past as a historical and social evolution in certain circumstances, while rejecting irrationalism that cannot detect the drastic change affecting these circumstances.
But they do apparently make common cause with a related version of this irrationalism, namely, folk wisdom and populist pursuits or, even, populist vulgarity.
Hiromi Mizuno has done an important service for sociologists of science in Japan, and for political economists and scholars of economic development and political modernity, for whom Japan is the emblem of a nation reborn: after World War Two, the values of modern science and democracy replaced Japan's alleged prewar and premodern irrationalism. Many scholars influenced to varying degrees by modernization theory believe that Asian countries like Japan, India, and South Korea owe their postwar economic and political successes to their conversion to the modern belief that science can be mobilized effectively for the nation by the state, universities, and industrial conglomerates.
The political ascension of this hawkish racist, ex-nightclub bouncer from Russia and former member of the party Kach who espoused overtly the idea of forced mass expulsion of Palestinian citizens of Israel and has even recently suggested, as final solution, that Gaza be nuked, constitutes an eloquent expression of the moral decay and suicidal irrationalism infecting the Israeli society at large.
Describing what he defines as James's "agenda," Belliotti writes, "He aspires to demonstrate that belief in God is not blind irrationalism, but a voluntary, rationally permissible, genuine choice" (138).
Like Kurtz, he notes a reduction in irrationalism since the founding of CSICOP 30 years ago.