Reductionism is the act of oversimplifying an issue, breaking it down into small parts that don't reflect how complex it actually is. Political scientists might accuse journalists of reductionism when they briefly sum up a complicated topic.

You might come across the term reductionism in a philosophy class — in this context, any scientific theory, object, or meaning can be reduced to its individual parts. If you understand these smaller components, you will understand the larger concept. A more derogatory way to use the word is to accuse someone of trying to make something too simple through reductionism. Someone who tends to do this is known as a reductionist.

Definitions of reductionism

n a theory that all complex systems can be completely understood in terms of their components

Type of:
a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena

n the analysis of complex things into simpler constituents

Type of:
analysis, analytic thinking
the abstract separation of a whole into its constituent parts in order to study the parts and their relations

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