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Dualism (from the Latin word duo meaning "two") denotes a state of two parts. The term 'dualism' was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition, a meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been diluted in general or common usages. Dualism can refer to moral dualism, (e.g. the conflict between good and evil), mind-body or mind-matter dualism (e.g. Cartesian Dualism) or physical dualism (e.g. the Chinese Yin and Yang). Dualism holds to the belief that there are two elements of existence: Physical and Spiritual.
Moral dualism is the belief of the great complement or conflict between the benevolent and the malignant.
Like ditheism/bitheism (see below), moral dualism does not imply the absence of monist or monotheistic principles. Moral dualism simply implies that there are two moral opposites at work, independent of any interpretation of what might be "moral" and - unlike ditheism/bitheism - independent of how these may be represented.
For example, Mazdaism (Mazdean Zoroastrianism) is both dualistic and monotheistic (but not monist by definition) since in that philosophy God—the Creator—is purely good, and the antithesis—which is also uncreated—is an absolute one. Zurvanism (Zurvanite Zoroastrianism), Manichaeism and Mandaeism, are representative of dualistic and monist philosophies since each has a supreme and transcendental First Principle from which the two equal-but-opposite entities then emanate. This is also true for the lesser-known Christian gnostic religions, such as Bogomils, Catharism, and so on. More complex forms of monist dualism also exist, for instance in Hermeticism, where Nous "thought" - that is described to have created man - brings forth both good and evil, dependent on interpretation, whether it receives prompting from the God or from the Demon. Duality with pluralism is considered a logical fallacy.
Moral dualism began as a theological belief. Dualism was first seen implicitly in Egyptian Religious beliefs by the contrast of the gods Set (disorder, death) and Osiris (order, life). The first explicit conception of dualism came from the Ancient Persian Religion of Zoroastrianism around the mid-fifth century BC. Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic religion that believes that Ahura Mazda is the eternal creator of all good things. Any violations of Ahura Mazda's order arise from druj, which is everything uncreated. From this comes a significant choice for humans to make. Either they fully participate in human life for Ahura Mazda or they do not and give druj power. Personal dualism is even more distinct in the beliefs of later religions.
The religious dualism of Christianity is not a perfect dualism as God (good) will inevitably destroy Satan (evil). Early Christian Dualism is largely based on Platonic Dualism (See: Neoplatonism and Christianity). There is also a personal dualism in Christianity with a soul-body distinction based on the idea of an immaterial Christian Soul.
Duotheism, bitheism, ditheism
In theology, 'dualism' may also refer to 'duotheism', 'bitheism' or 'ditheism'. Although ditheism/bitheism imply moral dualism, they are not equivalent: ditheism/bitheism implies (at least) two gods, while moral dualism does not imply any -theism (theos = god) whatsoever.
Both 'bitheism' and 'ditheism' imply a belief in two equally powerful gods with complementary or antonymous properties. However, while bitheism implies harmony, ditheism implies rivalry and opposition, such as between good and evil, or bright and dark, or summer and winter. For example, a ditheistic system would be one in which one god is creative, the other is destructive (cf. theodicy). In the original conception of Zoroastrianism, for example, Ahura Mazda was the spirit of ultimate good, while Ahriman (Angra Mainyu) was the spirit of ultimate evil. (This Zoroastrian conception of polar opposition and conflict would later come to influence the development of Christianity as it elaborated upon the idea of the Devil as an ultimate source of evil opposed to the Christian God, an idea that was previously absent in Judaism.)
In a bitheistic system, by contrast, where the two deities are not in conflict or opposition, one could be male and the other female (cf. duotheism). One well-known example of a bitheistic or duotheistic theology based on gender polarity is found in the neopagan religion of Wicca, which is centered on the worship of a divine couple - the Moon Goddess and the Horned God - who are regarded as lovers. However, there is also a ditheistic theme within traditional Wicca, as the Horned God has dual aspects of bright and dark - relating to day/night, summer/winter - expressed as the Oak King and the Holly King, who in Wiccan myth and ritual are said to engage in battle twice a year for the hand of the Goddess, resulting in the changing seasons. (Within Wicca, bright and dark do not correspond to notions of "good" and "evil" but are aspects of the natural world, much like yin and yang in Taoism.)
However, bitheistic and ditheistic principles are not always so easily contrastable, for instance in a system where one god is the representative of summer and drought and the other of winter and rain/fertility (cf. the mythology of Persephone). Marcionism, an early Christian sect, held that the Old and New Testaments were the work of two opposing gods: both were First Principles, but of different religions.
As a feature of reality
Alternatively, dualism can mean the tendency of humans to perceive and understand the world as being divided into two overarching categories. In this sense, it is dualistic when one perceives a tree as a thing separate from everything surrounding it, or when one perceives a "self" that is distinct from the rest of the world. In traditions such as classical Hinduism, Zen Buddhism or Islamic Sufism, a key to enlightenment is "transcending" this sort of dualistic thinking, without merely substituting dualism with monism or pluralism.
In Chinese philosophy
The opposition and combination of the universe's two basic principles of yin and yang is a large part of Chinese philosophy, and is an important feature of Taoism, both as a philosophy and as a religion. Yin and yang is also discussed in Confucianism, but to a lesser extent.
Some of the common associations with yang and yin, respectively, are: male and female, light and dark, active and passive, motion and stillness. The yin and yang symbol in actuality has very little to do with Western dualism; instead it represents the philosophy of balance, where two opposites co-exist in harmony and are able to transmute into each other. In the yin-yang symbol there is a dot of yin in yang and a dot of yang in yin. This symbolizes the inter-connectedness of the opposite forces as different aspects of Tao, the First Principle. Contrast is needed to create a distinguishable reality, without which we would experience nothingness. Therefore, the independent principles of yin and yang are actually dependent on one another for each other's distinguishable existence. The complementary dualistic concept in Taoism represents the reciprocal interaction throughout nature, related to a feedback loop, where opposing forces do not exchange in opposition but instead exchange reciprocally to promote stabilization similar to homeostasis. An underlying principle in Taoism states that within every independent entity lies a part of its opposite. Within sickness lies health and vice versa. This is because all opposites are manifestations of the single Tao, and are therefore not independent from one another, but rather a variation of the same unifying force throughout all of nature.
In Indian philosophy
Dvaita Vedanta (dualistic conclusions of the Vedas) school of Indian philosophy espouses dualism by theorizing the existence of two separate realities. The first and the more important reality is that of Vishnu or Brahman. Vishnu is the supreme Self, God, the absolute truth of the universe, the independent reality. The second reality is that of dependent but equally real universe that exists with its own separate essence. Everything that is composed of the second reality, such as individual soul (Jiva), matter, etc. exist with their own separate reality. The distinguishing factor of this philosophy as opposed to Advaita Vedanta (monistic conclusion of Vedas) is that God takes on a personal role and is seen as a real eternal entity that governs and controls the universe. Because the existence of individuals is grounded in the divine, they are depicted as reflections, images or even shadows of the divine, but never in any way identical with the divine. Salvation therefore is described as the realization that all finite reality is essentially dependent on the Supreme.
Mind-matter and mind-body dualism
In philosophy of mind
In philosophy of mind, dualism is any of a narrow variety of views about the relationship between mind and matter, which claims that mind and matter are two ontologically separate categories. In particular, mind-body dualism claims that neither the mind nor matter can be reduced to each other in any way, and thus is opposed to materialism in general, and reductive materialism in particular. Mind-body dualism can exist as substance dualism which claims that the mind and the body are composed of a distinct substance, and as property dualism which claims that there may not be a distinction in substance, but that mental and physical properties are still categorically distinct, and not reducible to each other. This type of dualism is sometimes referred to as "mind and body" and stands in contrast to philosophical monism, which views mind and matter as being ultimately the same kind of thing. See also Cartesian dualism, substance dualism, epiphenomenalism.
In Buddhist philosophy
During the classical era of Buddhist philosophy in India, philosophers such as Dharmakirti argue for a dualism between states of consciousness and Buddhist atoms (the basic building blocks that make up reality), according to "the standard interpretation" of Dharmakirti's Buddhist metaphysics. Typically in Western philosophy, dualism is considered to be a dualism between mind (nonphysical) and brain (physical), which ultimately involves mind interacting with the physical brain, and therefore also interacting with the micro-particles (basic building blocks) that make up the brain tissue. Buddhist dualism, in Dharmakirti’s sense, is different in that it is not a dualism between the mind and brain, but rather between states of consciousness (nonphysical) and basic building blocks (according to the Buddhist atomism of Dharmakirti, Buddhist atoms are also nonphysical: they are unstructured points of energy). Like many Buddhists from 600-1000 CE, Dharmakirti’s philosophy involved mereological nihilism, meaning that other than states of consciousness, the only things that exist are momentary quantum particles, much like the particles of quantum physics (quarks, electrons, etc.).
The first significant argument against dualism came from Thomas Hobbes's (1588–1679) materialist critique of the human person. Hobbes argues that all of human experience comes from biological processes contained within the body (see: The Leviathan). In response to Hobbes, the French Philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) developed Cartesian Dualism, which posits that there is a divisible, mechanical body and an indivisible, immaterial mind which interact with one another. The body perceives external inputs and the awareness of them comes from the soul. The point of interaction between the two is at the pineal gland in the brain.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, materialistic monism has became the norm. Still, in addition to already discussed theories of dualism (particularly the Christian and Cartesian Models) there are new theories in the defense of dualism. Naturalistic dualism comes from Australian Philosopher, David Chalmers (born 1966) who argues there is an explanatory gap between objective and subjective experience that cannot be bridged by reductionism because consciousness is, at least, logically autonomous of the physical properties upon which it supervenes. According to Chalmers, a naturalistic account of property dualism requires a new fundamental category of properties described by new laws of supervenience; the challenge being analogous to that of understanding electricity based on the mechanistic and Newtonian models of materialism prior to Maxwell's equations.
A similar defense comes from Australian Philosopher Frank Jackson (born 1943) who revived the theory of Epiphenomenalism which argues that mental states do not play a role in physical states. Jackson argues that there are two kinds of dualism. The first is substance dualism that assumes there is second, non-corporeal form of reality. In this form, body and soul are two different substances. The second form is property dualism that says that body and soul are different properties of the same body. He claims that functions of the mind/soul are internal, very private experiences that are not accessible to observation by others, and therefore not accessible by science (at least not yet). We can know everything, for example, about a bat's facility for echolocation, but we will never know how the bat experiences that phenomenon. In Jackson's mind experiment, he imagines a girl who grows up in a black-and-white room. She may grow up learning all about the scientific facts of colors, but has no way of experiencing colors other than black or white. When someone brings a red tomato into her room, she is stunned. She discovers a new fact: the experience of red is 'like this.' That experience is not a physical fact but a conscious one.
In some cultures, people (or also other beings) are believed to have two (or more) kinds of soul. In several cases, one of these souls is associated with body functions (and is sometimes thought to disappear after death, but not always), and the other one is able to leave the body (for example, a shaman's free-soul may be held to be able to undertake a spirit journey). The plethora of soul types may be even more complex.
The Bipartite view of theology recognizes the existence of both material and immaterial aspects of human life, typically body and soul. This is distinct from the Tripartite view that holds soul and spirit to be separate aspects of a person along with the body.
While Western philosophical traditions, as exemplified by Descartes, equate mind with the conscious self and theorize on consciousness on the basis of mind/body dualism; some Eastern philosophies provide an alternate viewpoint, intimately related to substance dualism, by drawing a metaphysical line between consciousness and matter — where matter includes both body and mind.
In Samkhya and Yogic philosophy
In Samkhya and Yoga schools of Indian philosophy, "there are two irreducible, innate and independent realities 1) consciousness itself (Purusha) 2) primordial materiality (Prakriti)". The unconscious primordial materiality, Prakriti, contains 23 components including intellect (buddhi,mahat), ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas). Therefore, the intellect, mind and ego are all seen as forms of unconscious matter. Thought processes and mental events are conscious only to the extent they receive illumination from Purusha. Consciousness is compared to light which illuminates the material configurations or 'shapes' assumed by the mind. So intellect after receiving cognitive structures form the mind and illumination from pure consciousness creates thought structures that appear to be conscious. Ahamkara, the ego or the phenomenal self, appropriates all mental experiences to itself and thus, personalizes the objective activities of mind and intellect by assuming possession of them. But consciousness is itself independent of the thought structures it illuminates.
By including mind in the realm of matter, Samkhya-Yoga avoids one of the most serious pitfalls of Cartesian dualism, the violation of physical conservation laws. Because mind is an evolute of matter, mental events are granted causal efficacy and are therefore able to initiate bodily motions.
In philosophy of science
In philosophy of science, dualism often refers to the dichotomy between the "subject" (the observer) and the "object" (the observed). Another dualism, in Popperian philosophy of science refers to "hypothesis" and "refutation" (for example, experimental refutation). This notion also carried to Popper's political philosophy.
In physics, dualism refers to mediums with properties that can be associated with the mechanics of two different phenomena. Because these two phenomena's mechanics are mutually exclusive, both are needed in order to describe the possible behaviors. All matter, for example, has wave-particle duality.
Dualism in modern and contemporary philosophy
The American philosopher Arthur Oncken Lovejoy in his *The Revolt Against Dualism (1960) develops a critique of the modern new realism, reproposing a form of dualism based on a "fork of human experience."
- Advaita Vedanta
- Didache – The Two Ways
- Dualism (philosophy of mind)
- Dualistic cosmology
- False dilemma
- Legal dualism
- Manichaeism (moral dualism)
- Pluralism (philosophy)
- Religious symbolism of unity of opposites
- Rhizome (philosophy)
- Table of Opposites
- Yanantin (Complementary dualism in Native South American culture)
- The term 'dualism' is recorded in English since 1785–95 (Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, 2013, "dualism").
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- Georges B.J. Dreyfus, Recognizing Reality, SUNY Press 1996 (ISBN 978-0791430989)
- “Leviathan – Introduction
- “Cartesian Dualism: Mind and Brain Interaction
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- Isaac, p. 339.
- Haney, p. 42.
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- Leaman, p. 248.
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|Look up dualism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Dualism.|
- Dualism at PhilPapers
- Dualism entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Dualism at the Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project
- Dualism and Mind entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Dictionary of the History of ideas: Dualism in Philosophy and Religion