The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Eclecticism is an approach to thought that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions or conclusions, but instead draws upon multiple theories to gain complementary insights into phenomena, or applies only certain theories in particular cases. This is sometimes inelegant, and eclectics are sometimes criticised for lack of consistency in their thinking, but it is common in many fields of study. For example, most psychologists accept parts of behaviorism, but do not attempt to use the theory to explain all aspects of human behavior. Similarily, a physicist may use Newton's laws for predicting the motion of baseballs, but will switch to the relativity for predicting motion of galaxies or to quantum mechanics for the one of subatomic particles. A statistician may use frequentist techniques on one occasion and Bayesian ones on another. An example of eclecticism in economics is John Dunning 's eclectic theory of international production .

Eclecticism in psychology is also supported by many in that in reality many factors influence behaviour and psyche, therefore it is inevitable to consider all perspectives in identifying, changing, explaining, and determining behaviour.

Eclecticism was first articulated by a group of ancient philosophers who tried to select from the existing philosophical beliefs those doctrines that seemed most reasonable to them. Out of this collected material they constructed their new system of philosophy. The term comes from the Greek eklektikos: choosing the best. Well known Eclectics in Greek philosophy were the Stoics Panaetius and Posidonius, and the New Academics Carnaedes and Philo of Larissa. Among the Romans, Cicero was thoroughly eclectic, as he united the Peripatetic , Stoic, and New Academic doctrines. Further eclectics were Varro and Seneca.

See also

Last updated: 08-30-2005 05:37:26
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46