Monism refers to the belief that reality consists of only one kind of substance. It is contrary to dualism (the belief that reality consists of two kinds of substances) or pluralism (the belief that reality consists of many different kinds of substances). We track it back to the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides who was later advanced by philosophers like Spinoza, Leibniz, Berkeley, and Hegel in the Western world. In this article, we’ll examine what monism really means and its key features, along with some important criticisms.
Monism is a philosophical view that attributes oneness or singleness to a concept (e.g., existence). Substance monism is the view that a variety of existing things can explain in terms of a single reality or substance. Another definition states that all existing things go back to a source that is distinct from them. And it follows one simple rule: one thing, one stuff. This view rejects dualist positions which state that mind and body are, in fact, different substances.
Who gave the idea of Monism?
The term coin by Christian Wolff in 1730 became popular due to Ernst Mach. The philosophical concept of monism introduces by Descartes in philosophy and Niels Bohr in physics. However, it can track back to ancient Greece where philosophers such as Thales and Anaxagoras proposed something like it. According to them, all things are made of only one type of thing called Primordial substance. Although it remains a mystery what they consider that primordial substance makes of. But we do know that Plato took a step further and argued that there exists The One which causes other things to move. So he believed in both materialistic monism and spiritual monism at once!
Types of Monism
The two major types of monism are materialistic monism and idealistic monism. Materialistic monists believe that all of reality ultimately consists of matter or physical entities. It can explain by scientific laws. The idea, for example, is that everything, in reality, can ultimately reduce to a physical property or process. Like quarks interacting through gravity and generating atoms, which interact through chemistry and generate everything we see.
Idealistic monists believe reality consists of mental phenomena such as thoughts or experiences, instead of matter. An individual’s stream of consciousness would be a case in point. It doesn’t consist of particles (as matter does). But rather something more like pure energy (as light is), albeit energy with some structure/order to it.
In philosophy, dualistic monism (or ontological dualism) identifies a position intermediate between ontological monism and ontological dualism. In brief, dualistic monists believe that there are two types of entities: physical and mental, or mind-like and body-like. Like ontological dualists, they believe in only two basic kinds of entities. Like ontological monists, they consider these two kinds of entities as fundamentally different from each other. The term dualistic refers to a belief in two fundamental kinds of entities; specifically, it refers to a belief that there are both physical (body/mind/world) and non-physical (e.g., mind/consciousness/experience) things in existence.
The argument is that a person consists of two substances: body and soul. The concept was first laid out by Plato, who believed that only humans have souls; other animals do not. A key distinction for dualists is between brain states and mental states—physical processes and mental processes are different phenomena. The philosopher René Descartes argued in favor of substance dualism. He says that you (as in your soul) are completely different from your body. Because you can think independently from it. You could lose your entire arm but as long as you still had your mind, you would continue to exist. Descartes supported his argument with a famous thought experiment involving Dr.
In the philosophy of mind, phenomenal dualism is a view about how minds and mental states are related to physical stuff like brains and bodies. The most influential version of phenomenal dualism in recent years has been that of David Chalmers. He defended what he called the hard problem of consciousness. Chalmers’ view was that consciousness cannot be fully understood as long as we are working only with physical concepts. Because we don’t yet have any good explanation for how things like experience and sensation fit into our physical theory. For example, you might tell me a story about what it’s like to see a ripe tomato in front of you, but my eyes don’t work like yours; I can’t actually picture a red fruit in front of me.
It is an idea that the mind and body are two separate things. Property dualists believe that mental properties (e.g., beliefs, desires, intentions) are fundamentally different than physical properties (e.g., height, weight, size), and thus cannot be reduced to them. According to property dualism, a person’s psychological properties make up their mind but do not necessarily determine their physiological states (which can be examined in traditional science). For example, a philosopher might have strong beliefs about environmental issues and simultaneously have high blood pressure.
There are many monistic philosophies in existence, but they differ in their interpretation of that one principle. In Western thought, however, monists generally agree that mind and matter are one; there’s just one fundamental thing and everything else is simply made up of it in various combinations. Idealists, for example, see mental or spiritual substances underlying reality; idealist thinkers include Plato and Hegel. Atomists believe everything arises from physical atoms moving about in space—Atomist philosophers include Democritus and Protagoras.
While monistic neuroscience argues that consciousness or mind should be entirely identified with some physical system (or systems) of how the brain works, others have defended a form of dualism, claiming that it would be better to identify mental properties with some non-physical entity in addition to any physical properties. The earliest clear statement of such a non-physical view comes from George Henry Lewes in his Problems of Life and Mind. He suggests that our ordinary concept of matter has been so influenced by association with life that when we think about what matter is fundamentally like, we tend to think only about things without life (such as rocks), rather than understanding that everything has life associated with it.
Does monism believe in God?
If monism believes in any sort of deity or god, it’s likely to be an impersonal force. Many philosophers through history have suggested that what we perceive as divinity or divinities are really just personifications of a divine unifying force (the idea behind monotheistic religions). The traditional example is a river: We can say that water moves, but there’s actually no such thing as moving water—only moving H2O molecules.
In a similar way, monists might say that gods and other beings are actually physical manifestations of some greater universal consciousness or mind. As opposed to polytheists and pantheists who believe in multiple deities, then, most monists believe that everything comes from one all-encompassing universal consciousness.
The world exists as one unified whole. Nothing exists besides one thing, which is indivisible and unchangeable. Although monism may sound like a new age belief system, it’s actually an ancient philosophy that dates back to some of history’s earliest thinkers including Socrates and Plato. The view that there is only one kind of ultimate reality (as mind or matter) from which all things derive; also: an interpretation of experience or phenomena based on a single principle or set of principles; also: identification with or adherence to such a view.
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