In philosophy, a contrast to relativism in any of its senses.
In its political sense, a description (more frequently than justification) of government without constitutional restrictions. The authority to govern cannot be qualified or restricted, because if it is, whatever restricts it is itself the final power.
Historically, one form it has taken has been the doctrine of the ‘divine right of Kings’, which was popular in Stuart England.
Though this doctrine was expressed in the course of 16th and 17th century debates over sovereignty, the term absolutism became current only in the 19th century to describe regimes having either such a character or such an aspiration.
Notable supporters of political absolutism have included Friedrich Hegel and Benito Mussolini.
Also see: divine right
David Miller et al, eds The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (Oxford, 1987)