Reductionism is the endeavor of understanding any object of inquiry, such as physical objects, situations, phenomena, explanations, theories, concepts, language, and so forth, by specifying the elements that constitute it. Whenever one level or domain or whole is analyzed as nothing more than another, it is said to be reduced to that other. The whole does not impart meaning to its parts, but rather, the parts are the meaning of the whole. The study of anything must be the study of its parts.

Reductionism can be said to trace back to the Middle Ages with the development of nominalism, which was committed to the reduction of collectives to their constituent elements. However, the full strength and significance of the method of reductionism developed along with the ...

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