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eclecticism (ĭklĕkˈtĭsĭzˌəm) [key] [Gr. eklektikos = to choose], in philosophy, the selection of elements from different systems of thought, without regard to possible contradictions between the systems. Eclecticism differs from syncretism, which tries to combine various systems while resolving conflicts. Many Roman philosophers, especially Cicero, and the Neoplatonists were known for eclecticism. Eclecticism among Renaissance humanists, who drew from Christian and classical doctrines, was followed by a 19th-century revival, particularly with French philosopher Victor Cousin, who coined the term and applied it to his own system. Eclectics are frequently charged with being inconsistent, and the term is sometimes used pejoratively.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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