From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
First published Tue 19 Aug, 2003
This entry concerns dualism in the philosophy of mind. The term
'dualism' has a variety of uses in the history of thought. In general,
the idea is that, for some particular domain, there are two fundamental
kinds or categories of things or principles. In theology, for example a
'dualist' is someone who believes that Good and Evil - or God and the
Devil - are independent and more or less equal forces in the world.
Dualism contrasts with monism, which is the theory that there is only
one fundamental kind, category of thing or principle; and, rather less
commonly, with pluralism, which is the view that there are many kinds or
categories. In the philosophy of mind, dualism is the theory that the
mental and the physical - or mind and body or mind and brain - are, in
some sense, radically different kinds of thing. Because common sense
tells us that there are physical bodies, and because there is
intellectual pressure towards producing a unified view of the world, one
could say that materialist monism is the 'default option'. Discussion
about dualism, therefore, tends to start from the assumption of the
reality of the physical world, and then to consider arguments for why
the mind cannot be treated as simply part of that world.
The entire article is (when pasted into a Word file) 133K. One can see
why it is possible to blunder about quite a bit when using the term
"dualism," which is controversial among professional philosophers &
A clear religious dualism is to be found in Manichaeism -- which St.
Thomas regarded as the most serious heresy to refute. The charge of
manichaeism was often a death sentence. The _reason_ theologians
regarded it as so serious a heresy, of course, is that Christianity
_does_ continually threaten to collapse into a dualism of good and evil,
god & the world, matter & soul, etc. My own reading of 4Q would be that
they represent (among many other things) an immense (but ultimately
unsuccessful) struggle to _avoid_ dualism. But most good poems probably
embody an unsuccessful struggle of some sort.