Comments on “Pop spirituality: monism goes mainstream”


Monism and continuum

Hi David,

I agree with many of your criticisms of monism on this and other pages, but I wonder if your positive recognition of its insights needs to be a bit more specific. I would suggest that where monists roughly get things right is by seeing the moral/spiritual progress possible in all religions and philosophies as on the same continuum. Progress is progress whoever makes it and from whatever starting point. Their mistake is when they assume that all approaches are equally useful in making progress on that continuum, or of course (as you have noted) in often “imperialistically” assuming that all approaches are in some essential way tributary to their own familiar one.


Positive aspects of monism

Hi, Robert,

Nice to see you here!

Yes, I will write in detail about what is right about monism. More generally, my method is to try to get inside the logic of each “stance” to understand what is compelling about it. In each case, that seems to involve some genuine insight that was non-obvious when the stance originated. Understanding the historical context helps me to find the internal logic, which is why I have been reading about German Romantic Idealism.

Explaining what is right about monism is critical for two reasons. First, the resolution of the monism/dualism dichotomy has to incorporate the insights of each. Second, I think it is not possible to criticize monism effectively without understanding why it is appealing.

As I will explain, the two Western critiques of monism—from the points of view of dualist religion (Christianity mainly), and scientific-materialist-rationalist nihilism—while logically sound, fail in practice because they don’t address monism’s accurate insights.

I wish I could write everything at once! I wish I wrote faster. It is probably going to be several months before there is enough on this site that you can really see what it is aiming at and how.

I decided to include a “metablog” on this site, as a way of dealing with my own slowness in writing. I am allowing the metablog to be something of a jumble—ideas will come out in an order that is not logical, and the tone and style may vary wildly. The book is supposed to come out mostly in a logical order, and to have a reasonably consistent level tone and style. That slows it down.

This metablog series on monism starts out with a satirical tone. I hope readers will enjoy that, although it might offend some. (Feedback on that would be welcome.)

One aspect of what I am calling “stances” is that they generally come in opposing pairs. From standpoint of each side of the pair, anything that contradicts it looks like the other.

So, for instance, my critique of monism will probably appear to be motivated by dualism, to a reader committed to monism. But that is not the case. I will equally critique dualism, at some point. (It might not be as fun, though, because the critique of dualism is pretty well-understood by educated Westerners at this point, I think.)



Philosophy in satirical rock songs

Hi, Kate,

I love that!

More of us should be presenting philosophy in the form of satirical rock songs… I’ve written a dozen or so of them myself. Sadly, I have considerably less than zero musical ability, so the likelihood that they will ever be heard is slight.

I feel considerable satisfaction, however, simply in having invented the genre of Buddhist death metal, even if no Buddhist death metal song is ever recorded. Every time I contemplate the concept of the genre, I spend several minutes in danger of asphyxiation because I can’t laugh fast enough.



Positive aspects of monism

Your approach to the critique of a given view sounds spot-on to me. I look forward to seeing more of them. No doubt I will disagree with some of the details, but it’s really good to find someone else on the web who is playing in the same ball-park (as I believe you might put it in the US!).

Probably the nearest thing you will find on my site to a critique of monism is the section of my thesis on Hegel ( but as it comes from a Ph.D. thesis that’s obviously rather less accessible than the work you are doing here.

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You are reading a metablog post, dated November 5, 2010.

The next metablog post is Bad ideas from dead Germans.

The previous metablog post was “Ultimate”: use carefully.

This page’s topics are Monism and Starting points.

General explanation: Meaningness is a hypertext book (in progress), plus a “metablog” that comments on it. The book begins with an appetizer. Alternatively, you might like to look at its table of contents, or some other starting points. Classification of pages by topics supplements the book and metablog structures. Terms with dotted underlining (example: meaningness) show a definition if you click on them. Pages marked with ⚒ are still under construction. Copyright ©2010–2020 David Chapman. Some links are part of Amazon Affiliate Program.