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Challenges To Dualism, Bibliography

Dualism is a doctrine positing two equally powerful and antagonistic metaphysical principles, which are constitutive of the world and must explain our experience of the world. They are often conceived as dichotomies, such as good and evil, light and darkness, attraction and repulsion, or love and strife.

In religion, perhaps the most important early doctrine was Zoroastrianism (Persia, today's Iran, sixth century B.C.E.). Zoroaster (c. 628–c. 551 B.C.E.) himself is thought to have only authored the Gathas, the earliest part of the Avesta, the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. In Zoroastrianism, the world is the outcome of the struggle between Ormuzd, the author of good, and Ahriman, the principle of darkness and evil. For Zoroaster, the divinities of the Persian pantheon were servants of Ahriman. Man is a creation of Ormuzd, who created him to be free in his actions, and so open to the influences of evil. Man will be rewarded or punished in the afterlife for his choices. Ultimately, a final battle will be won by Ormuzd against evil.

Manes (Mani; 216–276 or 277 C.E.) developed a form of Gnosticism, subsequently called Manichaeism, which sought to fuse elements from Christianity with the dualism of Zoroastrianism. Manichaeism spread east as far as northern India and western China and west as far as France and Spain. In Manes's system, the Father of Light and his aeons, the good, are opposed by the King of Darkness, who tried to invade the former's kingdom. From this strife both the world and humans were born. Humans have seeds of light in their soul, and Jesus was sent to bring the knowledge necessary to free the light from darkness. Ultimately, darkness will be conquered. Although Manichaeism sought to include Christianity, or because it did, it was actively fought by the Christian establishment, especially St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430), who was a Manichaean in his youth. Later Christian dualistic heresies, thought to be derived from Manichaeism, include the Paulicians (Armenia, Albania, seventh–eighth century), the Bogomils (Bulgaria, tenth century) and the Cathars (Albigensians; southern France, twelfth and thirteenth centuries).

The Sankhya school is the most consistent example of Indian dualism. Founded by the legendary Kapila around the seventh century B.C.E., its earliest known text is Isvarakrsna's Samkhya-karikas (Stanzas of Samkhya, presumably written in the third century C.E.). The Samkhya school proffered a dualism of matter (prakriti) and soul or self (purushas). The two are originally separate; however, purusha, from being pure unqualified consciousness comes close to, and identifies itself with, aspects of matter as its object. Individualized, ego-based ahankara divides itself into the five senses, thus immersing purusha in the world of matter. Right knowledge consists of the ability of soul to rise above the ego and individuation and regain its distinction from matter. Samkhya ideas are mentioned in the earlier Mahabharata (one of the most famous Sanskrit texts, composed in a number of years; it reached its present version by 400 C.E.).

Earlier forms of dualism can be traced in ancient Egyptian religion, with the contest between Seth, disorder and sterility, and Osiris, fertility and life, that manifests itself in a cycle of murder and resurrection. Forms of dualism can be found in mythologies around the world, such as Native American myths (Chippewa, Navajo, Blackfeet), or Australian tribes. In such mythologies, ambivalent figures (such as the Native American coyote myths, the Bamapana of the Australian Murnging tribe, and the Melanesian spider-god Marawa) can be present such as a demiurge or "trickster," who can either cooperate or rival the main deity and is often conceived as independent of him.

Metaphysical dualism is a philosophical system positing two basic nonreducible substances, typically matter (or body) and spirit (or soul). Among the early Greeks, (the pre-Socratics) Anaximander (610–c. 647 B.C.E.) and, later, Heracleitus (c. 540–c. 480 B.C.E.), Empedocles (c. 490–c. 430 B.C.E.), and Anaxagoras (c. 500–c. 428 B.C.E.) all held doctrines of opposed natural substances, where the interplay of opposites is part of the developed world. Pythagoreanism, believed to have been founded by Pythagoras of Samos (c. 580–c. 500 B.C.E.), focused on opposing dyads such as one/two, male/female, and so forth. Plato's (c. 428–348 or 347 B.C.E.) metaphysics divides the world into two realms: the unchanging intelligible world of "forms" and the perceptual world of change. Human sense experience is of material things that are imperfect copies or likenesses that "participate" in the unchangeable and perfect forms (Ideas). Plato's Republic and Timeus give mythical accounts of the relationship between things and forms.

There is no true dualism in the Judeo-Christian tradition, though a subordinate metaphysical distinction is posed between God and created substances, and, derivatively, between soul and matter. God is uncreated, all-powerful, all-good, and infinite. Everything else is created and utterly dependent. Among created substances, soul or mind is not reducible to matter. Satan or the devil, while not as powerful as God, seems to have a power that God cannot control. Herein lie theological worries such as the problem of evil. This framework characterizes the Christian philosophy, especially high medieval Scholastic tradition such as St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224–1274), who attempted to reconcile Christianity with Aristotelian and neo-Platonic theories. With a very few exceptions (such as the thirteenth-century philosopher David of Dinant), dualism of created substances remained unchallenged until the revival of atomism, and the successes of the new science and mechanical philosophy in the seventeenth century (Galileo Galilei, Robert Boyle).

Most often, dualism is used to refer to Cartesian mind/body dualism. René Descartes (1596–1650), in his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) and Discourse on Method (1637) developed a method, based on clear and distinct ideas, that he thought proved that thinking things were distinct from extended, inert material things. The exemplar of a clear and distinct idea was his "I think, therefore I am." Descartes struggled with the problem of how matter and mind, being different substances, could causally interact Reactions to Cartesian dualism, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, stressed the incoherence of causal connections between two different kinds of substance, and took the forms of idealism (George Berkeley, 1685–1753) or materialism (Julien Offroy de La Mettrie, 1709–1751) wherein dualism was eschewed in favor or a world composed only of ideas (spirit) or matter.

During the late nineteenth century an epistemological form of dualism arose, from Descartes's influence, that distinguished knowledge of the human sciences from the natural sciences. Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911) argued for a noncausal human science that would use a method of verstehen or interpretation of particular events as distinct from the causal inquiry of the natural sciences, and Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) began the school of phenomenology, wherein human science was based on introspections of one's own consciousness, made while bracketing the physical world.

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