The Full Wiki

Eclecticism: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Eclecticism

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases.

Eclecticism in architecture

It can sometimes seem inelegant or lacking in simplicity, and eclectics are sometimes criticized for lack of consistency in their thinking. It is, however, common in many fields of study. For example, most psychologists accept certain aspects of behaviorism, but do not attempt to use the theory to explain all aspects of human behavior. A statistician may use frequentist techniques on one occasion and Bayesian ones on another.



Eclecticism was first recorded to have been practiced by a group of ancient philosophers who attached themselves to no real system, but selected from 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.[1] Well known eclectics in Greek philosophy were the Stoics Panaetius and Posidonius, and the New Academics Carneades 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.

Architecture and art

The term eclecticism is used to describe the combination in a single work of elements from different historical styles, chiefly in architecture and, by implication, in the fine and decorative arts. The term is sometimes also loosely applied to the general stylistic variety of 19th century architecture after Neo-classicism (c. 1820)[2], although the revivals of styles in that period have, since the 1970s, generally been referred to as aspects of historicism.

Eclecticism plays an important role in critical discussions and evaluations but is somehow distant from the actual forms of the artefacts to which it is applied, and its meaning is thus rather indistinct. The simplest definition of the term—that every work of art represents the combination of a variety of influences—is so basic as to be of little use. In some ways Eclecticism is reminiscent of Mannerism in that the term was used pejoratively for much of the period of its currency, although, unlike Mannerism, Eclecticism never amounted to a movement or constituted a specific style: it is characterized precisely by the fact that it was not a particular style.


Eclecticism is recognized in approaches to psychology that see many factors influencing behavior and the psyche, and among those who consider all perspectives in identifying, changing, explaining, and determining behavior.

Martial arts

Some martial arts can be described as eclectic in the sense that they borrow techniques from a wide variety of other martial arts. The martial art system developed by Bruce Lee, called Jeet Kune Do, is classified as an eclectic system. It favors borrowing freely from other systems within a free floating framework. As with other disciplines that incorporate eclecticism, Jeet Kune Do's philosophy does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions or conclusions, but encourages students to learn what is useful for themselves. There is also Hapkido, a Korean martial art composed of throws, pressure points, and kicks, many taken from Chinese Chin Na, Shaolin (or more generally, Chinese) Eagle Claw kung fu, Japanese Judo, and Taekwondo (which is Korean).

In Philology

In textual criticism, eclecticism is the practice of examining a wide number of text witnesses and selecting the variant that seems best. The result of the process is a text with readings drawn from many witnesses. In a purely eclectic approach, no single witness is theoretically favored. Instead, the critic forms opinions about individual witnesses, relying on both external and internal evidence.

Since the mid-19th century, eclecticism, in which there is no a priori bias to a single manuscript, has been the dominant method of editing the Greek text of the New Testament (currently, the United Bible Society, 4th ed. and Nestle-Aland, 27th ed.). Even so, the oldest manuscripts, being of the Alexandrian text-type, are the most favored, and the critical text has an Alexandrian disposition.[3]


Robin Holloway cites the composers Britten, Shostakovich, Copland, Poulenc and Tippett as eclectic composers, 'along the lines first boldly laid by Stravinsky; they make their idiom from very diverse sources, assimilating and transforming them into themselves'.

In fact, much popular western music can be classified as eclectic, as virtually the entire genres of blues, jazz, rock, funk, hip-hop, punk, reggae, country music, Rhythm & Blues, electronica, salsa, and others are openly derivative of well-established forms—often, the genre acquires a new name to assist in marketing. The Beatles 'White Album' can be considered a turning point in pop music because it successfully showed that the public could appreciate musicians' mastery of several distinctively different styles on a single album- blues, hard rock, psychedelia, ballads and more. As well, Sly & the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell were among those most successful in producing music which defied definition. This was because any given song on certain albums might be classified as jazz, blues, rock, country, or other. In recent years, such artists as Beck, Manu Chao, Ce-Lo, Sublime, Lauryn Hill, Kultur Shock, Tracy Chapman, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jon Wiseman's 24-Hour Virtual Music Marathon, Les Claypool and Prince, have habitually produced music which refused to adhere to any particular label but drew upon and demanded appreciation of a multitude of cultural influences. Technology such as mp3s, filesharing, cheap media players, open source software, and inexpensive recording/editing software, will undoubtedly increase this trend as listeners exert even more control over what they hear.

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica - in philosophy and theology, the practice of selecting doctrines from different systems of thought without adopting the whole parent system for each doctrine
  2. ^ The Architecture of Choice: Eclectism in America, 1880-1910. by Leonard K. Eaton, 1975
  3. ^ Aland, B. 1994: 138

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ECLECTICISM (from Gr. EKX yw, I select), a term used specially in philosophy and theology for a composite system of thought made up of views borrowed from various other systems. Where the characteristic doctrines of a philosophy are not thus merely adopted, but are the modified products of a blending of the systems from which it takes its rise, the philosophy is not properly eclectic. Eclecticism always tends to spring up after a period of vigorous constructive speculation, especially in the later stages of a controversy between thinkers of pre-eminent ability. Their respective followers, and more especially cultured laymen, lacking the capacity for original work, seeking for a solution in some kind of compromise, and possibly failing to grasp the essentials of the controversy, take refuge in a combination of those elements in the opposing systems which seem to afford a sound practical theory. Since these combinations have often been as illogical as facile, "eclecticism" has generally acquired a somewhat contemptuous significance. At the same time, the essence of eclecticism is the refusal to follow blindly one set of formulae and conventions, coupled with a determination to recognize and select from all sources those elements which are good or true in the abstract, or in practical affairs most useful ad hoc. Theoretically, therefore, eclecticism is a perfectly sound method, and the contemptuous significance which the word has acquired is due partly to the fact that many eclectics have been intellectual trimmers, sceptics or dilettanti, and partly to mere partisanship. On the other hand, eclecticism in the sphere of abstract thought is open to this main objection that, in so far as every philosophic system is, at least in theory, an integral whole, the combination of principles from hostile theories must result in an incoherent patchwork. Thus it might be argued that there can be no logical combination of elements from Christian ethics, with its divine sanction, and purely intuitional or evolutionary ethical theories, where the sanction is essentially different in quality. It is in practical affairs that the eclectic or undogmatic spirit is most valuable, and also least dangerous.

In the 2nd century B.C. a remarkable tendency toward eclecticism began to manifest itself. The longing to arrive at the one explanation of all things, which had inspired the older philosophers, became less earnest; the belief, indeed, that any such explanation was attainable began to fail. Thus men came to adopt from all systems the doctrines which best pleased them. In Panaetius we find one of the earliest examples of the modification of Stoicism by the eclectic spirit; about the same time the same spirit displayed itself among the Peripatetics. In Rome philosophy never became more than a secondary pursuit; naturally, therefore, the Roman thinkers were for the most part eclectic. Of this tendency Cicero is the most striking illustration - his philosophical works consisting of an aggregation, with little or no blending, of doctrines borrowed from Stoicism, Peripateticism, and the scepticism of the Middle Academy.

In the last stage of Greek philosophy the eclectic spirit produced remarkable results outside the philosophies of those properly called eclectics. Thinkers chose their doctrines from many sources - from the venerated teaching of Aristotle and Plato, from that of the Pythagoreans and of the Stoics, from the old Greek mythology, and from the Jewish and other Oriental systems. Yet it must be observed that Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, and the other systems which are grouped under the name Alexandrian, were not truly eclectic, consisting, as they did, not of a mere syncretism of Greek and Oriental thought, but of a mutual modification of the two. It is true that several of the Neoplatonists professed to accept all the teaching both of Plato and of Aristotle, whereas, in fact, they arbitrarily interpreted Aristotle so as to make him agree with Plato, and Plato so as to make his teachings consistent with the Oriental doctrines which they had adopted, in the same manner as the schoolmen attempted to reconcile Aristotle with the doctrines of the church. Among the early Christians, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Synesius were eclectics in philosophy.

The eclectics of modern philosophy are too numerous to name. Of Italian philosophers the eclectics form a large proportion. Among the German we may mention Wolf and his followers, as well as Mendelssohn, J. A. Eberhard, Ernst Platner, and to some extent Schelling, whom, however, it would be incorrect to describe as merely an eclectic. In the first place, his speculations were largely original; and in the second place, it is not so much that his views of any time were borrowed from a number of philosophers, as that his thinking was influenced first by one philosopher, then by another.

In the 19th century the term "eclectic" came to be applied specially to a number of French philosophers who differed considerably from one another. Of these the earliest were Pierre Paul Royer-Collard, who was mainly a follower of Thomas Reid, and Maine de Biran; but the name is still more appropriately given to the school of which the most distinguished members are Victor Cousin, Theodore Jouffroy, J. P. Damiron, Barthelemy St Hilaire, C. F. M. de Remusat, Adolphe Gamier and Ravaisson-Mollien. Cousin, whose views varied considerably at different periods of his life, 'not only adopted freely what pleased him in the doctrines of Pierre Laromiguiere, RoyerCollard and Maine de Biran, of Kant, Schelling and Hegel, and of the ancient philosophies, but expressly maintained that the eclectic is the only method now open to the philosopher, whose function thus resolves itself into critical selection and nothing more. "Each system," he asserted, "is not false, but incomplete, and in reuniting all imcomplete systems, we should have a complete philosophy, adequate to the totality of consciousness." This assumes that every philosophical truth is already contained somewhere in the existing systems. If, however, as it would surely be rash to deny, there still remains philosophical truth undiscovered, but discoverable by human intelligence, it is evident that eclecticism is not the only philosophy. Eclecticism gained great popularity, and, partly owing to Cousin's position as minister of public instruction, became the authorized system in the chief seats of learning in France, where it has given a most remarkable impulse to the study of the history of philosophy.

<< Eckmuhl

Eclipse >>


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address