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Dualism (philosophy of mind)

In philosophy of mind, dualism is the position that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are not identical. Thus, it encompasses a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, and between subject and object, and is contrasted with other positions, such as physicalism and enactivism, in the mind–body problem.

Aristotle shared Plato's view of multiple souls and further elaborated a hierarchical arrangement, corresponding to the distinctive functions of plants, animals, and people: a nutritive soul of growth and metabolism that all three share; a perceptive soul of pain, pleasure, and desire that only people and other animals share; and the faculty of reason that is unique to people only. In this view, a soul is the hylomorphic form of a viable organism, wherein each level of the hierarchy formally supervenes upon the substance of the preceding level. Thus, for Aristotle, all three souls perish when the living organism dies. For Plato however, the soul was not dependent on the physical body; he believed in metempsychosis, the migration of the soul to a new physical body.

Dualism is closely associated with the thought of René Descartes (1641), which holds that the mind is a nonphysical—and therefore, non-spatial—substance. Descartes clearly identified the mind with consciousness and self-awareness and distinguished this from the brain as the seat of intelligence. Hence, he was the first to formulate the mind–body problem in the form in which it exists today. Dualism is contrasted with various kinds of monism. Substance dualism is contrasted with all forms of materialism, but property dualism may be considered a form of emergent materialism or non-reductive physicalism in some sense.


Dualism (from the Latin word duo meaning "two") denotes the 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 more generalized in other usages to indicate a system which contains two essential parts.

Moral dualism is the belief of the great complement or conflict between the benevolent and the malevolent. It simply implies that there are two moral opposites at work, independent of any interpretation of what might be "moral" and independent of how these may be represented. The moral opposites might, for example, exist in a world view which has one god, more than one god, or none. By contrast, ditheism or bitheism implies (at least) two gods. 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 destructive.

Alternatively, in ontological dualism, the world is divided into two overarching categories. 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 (it is also discussed in Confucianism).

In theology, dualism can refer to the relationship between God and creation. The Christian dualism of God and creation exists in some traditions of Christianity, like Paulicianism, Catharism, and Gnosticism. The Paulicians, a Byzantine Christian sect, believed that the universe, created through evil, exists separately from a moral God. The Dvaita Vedanta school of Indian philosophy also espouses a dualism between God and the universe. 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.

In Wicca, dualism is represented in the common wiccan belief in a god and a goddess as a dual partnership in ruling the universe.

In philosophy of mind, dualism is a view about the relationship between mind and matter which claims that mind and matter are two ontologically separate categories. Mind-body dualism claims that neither the mind nor matter can be reduced to each other in any way. Western dualist philosophical traditions (as exemplified by Descartes) equate mind with the conscious self and theorize on consciousness on the basis of mind/body dualism. By contrast, some Eastern philosophies draw a metaphysical line between consciousness and matter — where matter includes both body and mind.

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 also refers to media 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. An example of using two different physical models to describe one phenomenon is wave–particle duality.

In cybernetics, Norbert Wiener described "Manicheaen devils" (dualistic adversarial systems) as those systems or problems in which an intelligent adversary is attempting to exploit weaknesses of the investigator (such as in a game-playing opponent, adversarial law, evolutionary systems of predator/parasite and prey/host, politics/enslavement attempts, etc.). Wiener's "Cybernetics" contrasted such systems with "Augustinian devils" that were systems or problems that, though very complex and difficult to figure out, did not feature an adversary with contrary intent. Victories or "expansions of knowledge" in such systems were able to be built upon incrementally, through science (experimentation expanding empirical knowledge bases). Wiener noted that temporary weaknesses (such as errors to perceive all components of a system) were not fatal in attempts to defeat "Augustinian devils" because another experiment could simply be pursued (and he noted that he had personally defeated many "Augustinian devils" with his contributions to science and engineering). Wiener further noted that temporary lapses in judgment against "Manicheaen devils" were more often fatal or destructive, due to the desire of the opponent to "win/survive at all costs," even going so far as to introduce any level of deception into the system (and he noted that he had been defeated by many "Manicheaen devils," such as on occasions when he was temporarily careless in chess). Although this "duality" between "complexity" and "opposition" may seem obvious, there are deep implications in many areas of science, such as game theory, political science, computer science, network science, security science, military science, evolutionary biology, cryptography, etc.

Dualism (disambiguation)

Dualism is the moral or spiritual belief that two fundamental concepts exist, which often oppose each other.

Dualism may also refer to:

  • Dualistic cosmology, the religious belief that the universe is created or governed by two deities or spiritual forces
  • Dualism (philosophy of mind), a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, which begins with the claim that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical
  • Property dualism, a philosophy of mind and a subbranch of emergent materialism
  • Epistemological dualism, a philosophical concept also known as representative realism, indirect realism, and the veil of perception
  • Dualism (law), a principle in contending that international and domestic law are distinct systems of law, and that international law only applies to the extent that it does not conflict with domestic law
  • Dualism (politics), the separation of the responsibilities of cabinet and parliament
  • Dual (mathematics)
  • Dualist (album), an album by Taken by Cars
  • Dualism (album), an album by Dutch metal band Textures

Dualism (politics)

In Dutch politics the term dualism is used to refer to the separation of powers between the cabinet and parliament. In this respect, the way the Dutch cabinets function is somewhere in between the USA and UK systems of government. Unlike the US system, the legislative branch consists of the cabinet together with the parliament and cabinets are formed on basis of a majority in parliament. Unlike the UK system, cabinet ministers cannot be members of parliament. An important political issue is whether ministers and leaders of governing parliamentary parties should prepare important political decisions. According to the dualistic position, members of parliament of governing parties should function independently of their cabinet. The term monism is used to refer to a stance that important decisions should be prepared by the members of the governing coalition in order to promote political stability.

Politics Category:Politics of the Netherlands

Dualism (album)

Dualism is the fourth album by Dutch metal band Textures. The album was released on 23 September in Europe, South America and Asia, and was released in North America on September 27, all via Nuclear Blast records.

The first single from the album "Reaching Home" was released on 19 August worldwide. A music video was released simultaneously with the song. That same day, drummer Stef Broks released a video through of himself playing along to the entire new track titled "Singularity".

The album was produced by guitarist Jochem Jacobs and it was recorded in Split Second Sound Studio in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The artwork for the album has been designed by former vocalist Eric Kalsbeek and bassist Remko Tielemans.

The Collaborative International Dictionary


Dualism \Du"al*ism\, n. [Cf. F. dualisme.] State of being dual or twofold; a twofold division; any system which is founded on a double principle, or a twofold distinction; as:

  1. (Philos.) A view of man as constituted of two original and independent elements, as matter and spirit. (Theol.)

  2. A system which accepts two gods, or two original principles, one good and the other evil.

  3. The doctrine that all mankind are divided by the arbitrary decree of God, and in his eternal foreknowledge, into two classes, the elect and the reprobate.

  4. (Physiol.) The theory that each cerebral hemisphere acts independently of the other.

    An inevitable dualism bisects nature, so that each thing is a half, and suggests another thing to make it whole.



n. 1 duality; the condition of being double. 2 (context philosophy English) The view that the world consists of, or is explicable in terms of, two fundamental principles, such as mind and matter or good and evil. 3 (context theology English) The belief that the world is ruled by a pair of antagonistic forces, such as good and evil; the belief that man has two basic natures, the physical and the spiritual. 4 (context chemistry dated English) The theory, originated by Lavoisier and developed by Berzelius, that all definite compounds are binary in their nature, and consist of two distinct constituents, themselves simple or complex, and having opposite chemical or electrical affinities.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English


▪ At best, he is summarising our human tendency to dualism.
▪ It is a long road from dualism to monism.
▪ Surrealism is an escape from dualism.
▪ The second question which an opponent of dualism such as a functionalist must face, concerns the alleged privacy of the mental.
▪ The Soul and the Understanding represent these dualities psychologically, recreating within man the structural dualism of the cosmos.
▪ The transition from dualism to monism is painful.
▪ This way of understanding reality or dualism is illustrated in Figure 2.
▪ With hindsight the confidence with which the demise of dualism was predicted appears to have been premature.


n. the doctrine that reality consists of two basic opposing elements, often taken to be mind and matter (or mind and body), or good and evil

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary


1755 as a term in philosophy, from French dualisme (1754); also used in theological senses; see dual + -ism.

Usage examples of "dualism".

Zen and Shin, but both schools agree that the distinction is ultimately based on the subject-object dualism, that there is neither self nor other, neither eros nor agapeagain, Eros and Agape united only in the nondual Heart.

Zoroastrian dualism, the same arrogant assumption that the Goddess could be banished, when all that was banished was a poorly differentiated mythos that many ecofeminists have severely reinterpreted to fit their ideology.

Numerous scientists of the seventeenth century, from Galileo to Newton, affirmed the Cartesian dualism of the primary properties of the physical world versus the secondary properties associated with human perception.

I personally think that next to Christianity Dualism is the manliest and most sensible creed on the market.

If Dualism is true, then the bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake.

Their doctrine was half religion and half philosophy, asserting that the world consisted of a dualism of good and evil, light and darkness, spirit and matter.

But if they have that faculty, the same dualism between thought and extension must also apply to them.

We would say: according to Cartesian dualism the Zombie possibility and the Mutant possibility are both wide open.

Can we really get a possible picture of how the world is from Cartesian dualism, never mind about whether we know it is like that?

There are even philosophers who think that some kind of Cartesian dualism is true, and that the mind really is epiphenomenalnever causes any physical events at all.

It might even seem that these thoughts are sound enough to give some kind of argument for Cartesian dualism, it only being within that framework that they make any sense.

Roger Penrose, a physicist from London University, believes that a new kind of dualism is needed, that in effect a whole new set of physical laws may apply inside the brain, which account for consciousness.

The Don Quixote-Sancho Panza combination, which of course is simply the ancient dualism of body and soul in fiction form, recurs more frequently in the literature of the last four hundred years than can be explained by mere imitation.

At any rate, both because of the clear trend in the recent history of biology and because there is not a shred of evidence to support it, I will not in these pages entertain any hypotheses on what used to be called the mind-body dualism, the idea that inhabiting the matter of the body is something made of quite different stuff, called mind.

Thus began the dualism of love--two souls rolling through space and never at rest until they join together to complete the universe.