Monism and Dualism in the Philosophy of Being

Monism and Dualism in the Philosophy of Being

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

While explaining what existence is, monist and dualist explanations are encountered in some philosophers. Monist explanations are formed under the name of Monism, and dualist explanations are under the name of Dualism (See: What is Monism?), (See: What is Dualism?).


Monism is the general name given to the teachings that reduce the multiplicity in every field to unity. In particular, the teachings that equate spirit and matter by reducing spirit to matter or matter to spirit are monists or monists. For example, according to Spinoza, there is only one substance (substantia); it cannot be divided, limited, destroyed. That substance is God, but it is also nature. Spirits and individual bodies are nothing but God himself. God is in everything in the world of existence. God appears inwardly to us as the world of spirit and matter.

The term monism is used against the concepts of dualism and pluralism. For example, the German philosopher Hegel is a monist as he regards matter as the product of the spirit. On the other hand, the French thinker Descartes is dualist as he argues that spirit and matter cannot be reduced to each other. The German philosopher Herbart is also a pluralist, as he argues that the beings in the universe come from many roots that cannot be reduced to each other.

The term monism is derived from the Greek word monos, which means alone, by the German thinker Wolff. Monism, expressed by some writers as monism, names the view that all kinds of beings come from a single source, and because this source is assumed to be matter or spirit, it is divided into two as material monism and thought monism. Spinoza, all pantheists, all Eastern and Western mystics, monotheists, thinkers and vulgar materialists are monists. The most advanced and scientific form of monism is seen in the understanding of Marxism.


The philosophical movement that asserts the existence of two opposing principles that cannot be reduced to each other in any field is called dualism.

It is possible to answer the question of what is dualism as follows: The philosophical movement that asserts the existence of two opposing principles that cannot be reduced to each other in any field is called dualism. Some realist philosophers, who argue that existence exists independently of the human mind, argued that it is the product of both matter and thought (spirit, ide). These philosophers are called dualist (dualist) philosophers in the history of philosophy. Dualism is the opposite of monism and pluralism.

For example, Plato’s realm of ideas and material existence, then Plotinos and St. It was transferred to the Middle Ages with Augustine and gained widespread acceptance. In Descartes, who lived in the 17th century, we see dualism at its best. According to him, there are two elements (substance) that establish the world of existence in the universe: body and spirit. The properties of the body are space and movement, and the properties of the soul are thinking (consciousness). These two separate worlds have been mixed together by God. There is no empty space in the universe; therefore, the movements in the universe jump to the next one in a contiguous manner. The universe is like a big machine and can be explained by mechanical laws. Descartes said that we should not doubt the reality of things outside of us. However, the source of our thoughts about the existence of the external world and all kinds of movement in the universe was also God.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım
Source: Prof. Dr. Mustafa Ergün – Introduction to Philosophy – Philosophy of Being