dualism

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dualism

dualism, any philosophical system that seeks to explain all phenomena in terms of two distinct and irreducible principles. It is opposed to monism and pluralism. In Plato's philosophy there is an ultimate dualism of being and becoming, of ideas and matter. Aristotle criticized Plato's doctrine of the transcendence of ideas, but he was unable to escape the dualism of form and matter, and in modern metaphysics this dualism has been a persistent concept. In modern philosophy dualism takes many forms. Thus in Immanuel Kant there is an ontological dualism between the phenomenal and noumenal worlds and an epistemological dualism between the passivity of sensation and the spontaneity of the understanding. In psychology occasionalism and interactionism both assumed a dualism of mind and matter. The term also has a theological application, e.g., Manichaeism explained evil in the world as resulting from an ultimate evil principle, coeternal with good. See also monism and pluralism.
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dualism

any doctrine in which the fundamental forms of things, 'S ubstances’, reality, etc, are seen as of two contrasting types, without any possibility of one being reduced to the other, for example:
  1. (PHILOSOPHY) a distinction between ‘material’ things and ‘mental’ ideas;
  2. (SOCIOLOGY) distinctions between nature and nurture (see NATURE–NURTURE DEBATE), or between individual agency and the structural determination of social outcomes.

In philosophy, the alternative to dualism is monism, which asserts that ‘things’, substances, etc, are all of one basic kind, either ‘material’ in form (see MATERIALISM) or ‘mental’. A further position, REALISM, argues that there is only one reality, even if this reality is 'S tratified’, i.e. contains fundamental differences of type, even if stopping short of dualism.

In current philosophy and sociology rather than an outright ‘dualism’, a frequent position is to recognize the utility of thinking in terms of a duality of forms -mind and matter, or structure and agency – in which there exists a dialectical interaction between the two kinds of‘thing’, but with no justification for sustaining a claim that there exist any ultimately irreducible kinds, e.g. see DUALITY OF STRUCTURE. See also DESCARTES, STRUCTURE AND AGENCY.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dualism

 

a philosophical doctrine that proceeds from the recognition of the two fundamental principles—spirit and matter, the ideal and the material—as equal and not reducible to each other. Dualism is opposed to monism (materialistic or idealistic), which proceeds from the recognition of only one principle as fundamental, and can be regarded as a variant of pluralism, which asserts a multiplicity of principles of being. The term “dualism” was introduced by the German philosopher C. Wolff and designated the recognition of two substances: the material and the spiritual. One of the most important spokesmen for the dualistic position was R. Descartes, who divided being into a thinking substance (the spirit) and an extended substance (matter). Descartes resolved the problem of the interrelation of these two substances within man (the psychophysical problem) from the position of psychophysical parallelism, according to which psychological and physiological processes do not depend on each other.

Characteristic of modern philosophy are the forms of epistemological dualism that, as distinct from ontological dualism, proceed not from the contraposition of substances but from the opposition of a knowing subject to a known object. Thus, for J. Locke and D. Hume consciousness appears as a totality of isolated perceptions, feelings, and ideas, which do not have a unifying substantial basis. Another variant of epistemological dualism was presented by E. Kant, who regarded consciousness as an activity that orders the data of experience according to its own laws, which are independent of the external world according to a priori forms of sensory apprehension and reason. Epistemological dualism is invariably connected with agnosticism—the conviction that the world cannot be known by the consciousness.

The concept of dualism is also applied to conceptions and doctrines that assert the equality of any opposed fundamental principles or spheres: thus, one speaks of the dualism of good and evil in Manichaeism and of the dualism, characteristic of the Kantian tradition, of the world of nature, that is, the world of phenomena, which is structured according to the principle of causality (necessity), as opposed to the world of freedom, that is, of “things in themselves.” Dialectical materialism is opposed to all forms of dualism; it asserts materialistic monism, which proceeds from the conviction that all phenomena in the world are different forms and manifestations of moving matter.

D. M. LUKANOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.