The Phrontistery

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Philosophical Isms

Here are 234 different isms, each representing a philosophical, political or moral doctrine or a belief system. In selecting terms for the list, I have deliberately avoided any word which apply ism to a personal name, so that Marxism doesn't count although it is otherwise an ideal candidate for the list. I also excluded isms which do not refer to a specific belief system, such as impressionism (an artistic movement) or alcoholism (a disease). Despite these omissions, enough remain to leave an ism in every pot, including beliefs about proper government, God, and the nature of existence itself. Of the terms on the list that are of a religious nature, most are Christian, which is not unexpected, but I'm open to adding isms from other world religions.

Word Definition
absolutism doctrine of government by a single absolute ruler; autocracy
absurdism doctrine that we live in an irrational universe
academicism doctrine that nothing can be known
accidentalism theory that events do not have causes
acosmism disbelief in existence of eternal universe distinct from God
adamitism nakedness for religious reasons
adevism denial of gods of mythology and legend
adiaphorism doctrine of theological indifference or latitudinarianism
adoptionism belief that Christ was the adopted and not natural son of God
aestheticism doctrine that beauty is central to other moral principles
agapism ethics of love
agathism belief in ultimate triumph of good despite evil means
agnosticism doctrine that we can know nothing beyond material phenomena
anarchism doctrine that all governments should be abolished
animism attribution of soul to inanimate objects
annihilationism doctrine that the wicked are utterly destroyed after death
anthropomorphism attribution of human qualities to non-human things
anthropotheism belief that gods are only deified men
antidisestablishmentarianism doctrine opposed to removing Church of England's official religion status
antilapsarianism denial of doctrine of the fall of humanity
antinomianism doctrine of the rejection of moral law
antipedobaptism denial of validity of infant baptism
apocalypticism doctrine of the imminent end of the world
asceticism doctrine that self-denial of the body permits spiritual enlightenment
aspheterism denial of the right to private property
atheism belief that there is no God
atomism belief that the universe consists of small indivisible particles
autosoterism belief that one can obtain salvation through oneself
autotheism belief that one is God incarnate or that one is Christ
bitheism belief in two gods
bonism the doctrine that the world is good but not perfect
bullionism belief in the importance of metallic currency in economics
capitalism doctrine that private ownership and free markets should govern economies
casualism the belief that chance governs all things
catabaptism belief in the wrongness of infant baptism
catastrophism belief in rapid geological and biological change
collectivism doctrine of communal control of means of production
collegialism theory that church is independent from the state
communism theory of classless society in which individuals cannot own property
conceptualism theory that universal truths exist as mental concepts
conservatism belief in maintaining political and social traditions
constructivism belief that knowledge and reality do not have an objective value
cosmism belief that the cosmos is a self-existing whole
cosmotheism the belief that identifies God with the cosmos
deism belief in God but rejection of religion
determinism doctrine that events are predetermined by preceding events or laws
diphysitism belief in the dual nature of Christ
ditheism belief in two equal gods, one good and one evil
ditheletism doctrine that Christ had two wills
dualism doctrine that the universe is controlled by one good and one evil force
egalitarianism belief that humans ought to be equal in rights and privileges
egoism doctrine that the pursuit of self-interest is the highest good
egotheism identification of oneself with God
eidolism belief in ghosts
emotivism theory that moral statements are inherently biased
empiricism doctrine that the experience of the senses is the only source of knowledge
entryism doctrine of joining a group to change its policies
epiphenomenalism doctrine that mental processes are epiphenomena of brain activity
eternalism the belief that matter has existed eternally
eudaemonism ethical belief that happiness equals morality
euhemerism explanation of mythology as growing out of history
existentialism doctrine of individual human responsibility in an unfathomable universe
experientialism doctrine that knowledge comes from experience
fallibilism the doctrine that empirical knowledge is uncertain
fatalism doctrine that events are fixed and humans are powerless
fideism doctrine that knowledge depends on faith over reason
finalism belief that an end has or can be reached
fortuitism belief in evolution by chance variation
functionalism doctrine emphasising utility and function
geocentrism belief that Earth is the centre of the universe
gnosticism belief that freedom derives solely from knowledge
gradualism belief that things proceed by degrees
gymnobiblism belief that the Bible can be presented to unlearned without commentary
hedonism belief that pleasure is the highest good
henism doctrine that there is only one kind of existence
henotheism belief in one tribal god, but not as the only god
historicism belief that all phenomena are historically determined
holism doctrine that parts of any thing must be understood in relation to the whole
holobaptism belief in baptism with total immersion in water
humanism belief that human interests and mind are paramount
humanitarianism doctrine that the highest moral obligation is to improve human welfare
hylicism materialism
hylomorphism belief that matter is cause of the universe
hylopathism belief in ability of matter to affect the spiritual world
hylotheism belief that the universe is purely material
hylozoism doctrine that all matter is endowed with life
idealism belief that our experiences of the world consist of ideas
identism doctrine that objective and subjective, or matter and mind, are identical
ignorantism doctrine that ignorance is a favourable thing
illuminism belief in an inward spiritual light
illusionism belief that the external world is philosophy
imagism doctrine of use of precise images with unrestricted subject
immanentism belief in an immanent or permanent god
immaterialism the doctrine that there is no material substance
immoralism rejection of morality
indifferentism the belief that all religions are equally valid
individualism belief that individual interests and rights are paramount
instrumentalism doctrine that ideas are instruments of action
intellectualism belief that all knowledge is derived from reason
interactionism belief that mind and body act on each other
introspectionism doctrine that knowledge of mind must derive from introspection
intuitionism belief that the perception of truth is by intuition
irreligionism system of belief that is hostile to religions
kathenotheism polytheism in which each god is considered single and supreme
kenotism doctrine that Christ rid himself of divinity in becoming human
laicism doctrine of opposition to clergy and priests
latitudinarianism doctrine of broad liberality in religious belief and conduct
laxism belief that an unlikely opinion may be safely followed
legalism belief that salvation depends on strict adherence to the law
liberalism doctrine of social change and tolerance
libertarianism doctrine that personal liberty is the highest value
malism the belief that the world is evil
materialism belief that matter is the only extant substance
mechanism belief that life is explainable by mechanical forces
meliorism the belief the world tends to become better
mentalism belief that the world can be explained as aspect of the mind
messianism belief in a single messiah or saviour
millenarianism belief that an ideal society will be produced in the near future
modalism belief in unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit
monadism theory that there exist ultimate units of being
monergism theory that the Holy Spirit alone can act
monism belief that all things can be placed in one category
monophysitism belief that Christ was primarily divine but in human form
monopsychism belief that individuals have a single eternal soul
monotheism belief in only one God
monotheletism belief that Christ had only one will
mortalism belief that the soul is mortal
mutualism belief in mutual dependence of society and the individual
nativism belief that the mind possesses inborn thoughts
naturalism belief that the world can be explained in terms of natural forces
necessarianism theory that actions are determined by prior history; fatalism
neonomianism theory that the gospel abrogates earlier moral codes
neovitalism theory that total material explanation is impossible
nihilism denial of all reality; extreme scepticism
nominalism doctrine that naming of things defines reality
nomism view that moral conduct consists in observance of laws
noumenalism belief in existence of noumena
nullibilism denial that the soul exists in space
numenism belief in local deities or spirits
objectivism doctrine that all reality is objective
omnism belief in all religions
optimism doctrine that we live in the best of all possible worlds
organicism conception of life or society as an organism
paedobaptism doctrine of infant baptism
panaesthetism theory that consciousness may inhere generally in matter
pancosmism theory that the material universe is all that exists
panegoism solipsism
panentheism belief that world is part but not all of Godís being
panpsychism theory that all nature has a psychic side
pansexualism theory that all thought derived from sexual instinct
panspermatism belief in origin of life from extraterrestrial germs
pantheism belief that the universe is God; belief in many gods
panzoism belief that humans and animals share vital life energy
parallelism belief that matter and mind donít interact but relate
pejorism severe pessimism
perfectibilism doctrine that humans capable of becoming perfect
perfectionism doctrine that moral perfection constitutes the highest value
personalism doctrine that humans possess spiritual freedom
pessimism doctrine that the universe is essentially evil
phenomenalism belief that phenomena are the only realities
physicalism belief that all phenomena reducible to verifiable assertions
physitheism attribution of physical form and attributes to deities
pluralism belief that reality consists of several kinds or entities
polytheism belief in multiple deities
positivism doctrine that that which is not observable is not knowable
pragmatism doctrine emphasizing practical value of philosophy
predestinarianism belief that what ever is to happen is already fixed
prescriptivism belief that moral edicts are merely orders with no truth value
primitivism doctrine that a simple and natural life is morally best
privatism attitude of avoiding involvement in outside interests
probabiliorism belief that when in doubt one must choose most likely answer
probabilism belief that knowledge is always probable but never absolute
psilanthropism denial of Christ's divinity
psychism belief in universal soul
psychomorphism doctrine that inanimate objects have human mentality
psychopannychism belief souls sleep from death to resurrection
psychotheism doctrine that God is a purely spiritual entity
pyrrhonism total or radical skepticism
quietism doctrine of enlightenment through mental tranquility
racism belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities
rationalism belief that reason is the fundamental source of knowledge
realism doctrine that objects of cognition are real
reductionism belief that complex phenomena are reducible to simple ones
regalism doctrine of the monarch's supremacy in church affairs
representationalism doctrine that ideas rather than external objects are basis of knowledge
republicanism belief that a republic is the best form of government
resistentialism humorous theory that inanimate objects display malice towards humans
romanticism belief in sentimental feeling in artistic expression
sacerdotalism belief that priests are necessary mediators between God and mankind
sacramentarianism belief that sacraments have unusual properties
scientism belief that the methods of science are universally applicable
self-determinism doctrine that the actions of a self are determined by itself
sensationalism belief that ideas originate solely in sensation
sexism belief in systematic inequalities between the sexes
siderism belief that the stars influence human affairs
skepticism doctrine that true knowledge is always uncertain
socialism doctrine of centralized state control of wealth and property
solarism excessive use of solar myths in explaining mythology
solifidianism doctrine that faith alone will ensure salvation
solipsism theory that self-existence is the only certainty
somatism materialism
spatialism doctrine that matter has only spatial, temporal and causal properties
spiritualism belief that nothing is real except the soul or spirit
stercoranism belief that the consecrated Eucharist is digested and evacuated
stoicism belief in indifference to pleasure or pain
subjectivism doctrine that all knowledge is subjective
substantialism belief that there is a real existence underlying phenomena
syndicalism doctrine of direct worker control of capital
synergism belief that human will and divine spirit cooperate in salvation
terminism doctrine that there is a time limit for repentance
thanatism belief that the soul dies with the body
theism belief in the existence of God without special revelation
theocentrism belief that God is central fact of existence
theopantism belief that God is the only reality
theopsychism belief that the soul is of a divine nature
thnetopsychism belief that the soul dies with the body, to be reborn on day of judgement
titanism spirit of revolt or defiance against social conventions
tolerationism doctrine of toleration of religious differences
totemism belief that a group has a special kinship with an object or animal
transcendentalism theory that emphasizes that which transcends perception
transmigrationism belief that soul passes into other body at death
trialism doctrine that humans have three separate essences (body, soul, spirit)
tritheism belief that the members of the Trinity are separate gods
triumphalism belief in the superiority of one particular religious creed
tuism theory that individuals have a second or other self
tutiorism doctrine that one should take the safer moral course
tychism theory that accepts role of pure chance
ubiquitarianism belief that Christ is everywhere
undulationism theory that light consists of waves
universalism belief in universal salvation
utilitarianism belief that utility of actions determines moral value
vitalism the doctrine that there is a vital force behind life
voluntarism belief that the will dominates the intellect
zoism doctrine that life originates from a single vital principle
zoomorphism conception of a god or man in animal form
zootheism attribution of divine qualities to animals

I hope you have found this site to be useful. If you have any corrections, additions, or comments, please contact me. Please note that I am not able to respond to all requests. Please consult a major dictionary before e-mailing your query. All material on this page © 1996-2021 Stephen Chrisomalis. Links to this page may be made without permission.

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