In philosophy, non-essentialism is the belief that any given entity or subject cannot be propositionally defined in terms of specified values or characteristics, which that entity must have in order to be defined as that entity. For example, some humanists may have an idea of what the essence of being human is: there are specific traits which make something human.
This view is somewhat problematic, however, as an entity not defined by any specific values or characteristics may lack any meaningful existence to an observer. Since entities in the real world are defined by their observers in some way, and in terms of characteristics, it would be impossible for a non-essential entity to be found in the real world, though this does not imply that they could not exist in the real world.
A non-essentialist would argue otherwise though, that it is impossible to find anything that has only its essential characteristics, that since every thing is a particular, that which is accidental is just as important to the particular as what is essential.
Non-essentialism can also be related to culture: that a person of a culture does not possess all of the traits that are labeled with it. An essentialist view on a culture can lead to racism.
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