Comments on “Monism and dualism contain each other”



Lawrence D'Anna's picture

Wouldn't it be fantastic if Islam got eaten from the inside by virulent Monism? That sounds awesome. Imagine PC Muslims enforcing a code of acceptable speech that says it's un-islamic to claim Jews and Hindus worship a different good than Allah. If postmodern PC feminism was the worst thing happening in the middle east, that would be a huge improvement.

Eating Islam

Yes, it's amusing to contemplate! And on the whole it would probably be a major improvement. Wahhabism is pretty much the worst meme-plex going.

I'm sympathetic to the plight of traditional Muslims, however. Their religion(s) have genuine value. And a global monist monoculture would be a terrible outcome, in my opinion. Monism is awful (as I will eventually explain in detail).

In an ideal world, I'd like to see Wahhabism out-competed by a tolerant moderate contemporary Islam. That could potentially develop out of existing moderate traditional forms. The problem has been that those are seen as old-fashioned by youngsters, to whom Wahhabism appears to be hip and modern (despite its rhetoric of tradition).

The most intelligent and clueful Muslims seem to quietly abandon Islam altogether, rather than attempting reform. Perhaps that's the only realistic path forward; I don't know.

Mathematics of participation

Dan's picture

"Nebulous boundaries" sounds like the sort of thing there would be math for—for STEMish types wanting to adopt the complete stance, do you suppose it'd be helpful to study... I dunno, fuzzy set theory, or something?

Nebulosity and mathematics

Yes, it does seem at first thought that there should be a relevant mathematics. And, yes, fuzzy set theory was invented as an attempt to deal with the nebulosity of category boundaries. Unfortunately, it doesn't do a good job of that at all. (Your comment has prompted me to post a stub page discussing this, "The continuum gambit.")

In general, particular aspects of nebulosity can often be modeled effectively mathematically, using many different branches of mathematics. It's important to recognize that these are just models, though, and not to confuse the map with the territory.

Nebulosity as a general phenomenon can't be captured mathematically. The explanation for this is subtle. It's actually the material I would most like to write—but I have to build up a tremendous amount of background conceptual analysis first.

In terms of Kegan's theory of cognitive development, getting this point amounts to making the transition forward from stage 4 toward stage 5.

I think I can explain this in a way that will be particularly clear and appealing to STEMish folks, and that doing so should be valuable for many, so I hope I someday get to it!


Pobop's picture

It only took a reformation, counter-reformation, religious wars ending in the treaty of Westphalia and a couple world wars to domesticate christianity. And now everyone be like "hay muslims why u gotta be so rude".

I don't know practically anything about the political and ideological history of islam, but it's interesting to ask why Islam in particular seems to contain these radical fanatical elements. Huge and complex question.

Following the Paris attacks, everyone (in the media) was pointing out how that had nothing to do with religion. I get the point that we shouldn't think of all muslims as terrorists, but ISIS/L isn't secular either.

Maybe a bit of a tangent, and hard to discuss about intelligently, but seems relevant to the topic of how meaning is made and maintained.


Yes, very much of interest. Tentatively I plan to write about ISIS/L in terms of the themes of this book. Someday, maybe—although by the time I get to it, they may be long gone!

My understanding of the Yin

Anonymous's picture

My understanding of the Yin/Yang symbol is that it's not what it at first seems.

More specifically, it first seems that the symbol is obviously about some kind of dualism and by juxtaposing the two sides besides each other the differences are enhanced. Somewhat like complementary colours.

But at the same time the boundaries are not straight but a bit twined. Both parts also include part of the other. While this breaks some of the straightforward dualism, on the whole it can seem to still enhance differences.

So, if my understanding is good, the symbol is an educational ploy or device and the two steps above the first two steps in a kind of Socratic pedagogical progression towards understanding that, actually in the end, there are no differences at all. (From dualism to monism.)

The symbol is however so strong in it's graphical design that some cultures, such as the Western world, took the symbol but forgot to import the pedagogical process in which it's meant to be embedded.

Thus in the West the symbol often ends up representing the opposite of the original end-game.

Your conceptualizations of

Question Everything's picture

Your conceptualizations of monism and dualism are inconsistent with the meaning ascribed to those terms, of which there is a consensus among philosophers, at least to my knowledge on the matter. These are metaphysical concepts, applied to explaining the nature of reality, not the cultural phenomena you attempt to apply them to an in so doing are misappropriating them in a manner that misleads your readers and muddles their meaning. Monism and dualism are mutually exclusive, by definition. They can not be conflated without losing their basic meaning. Monism entails that all of reality derives from one fundamental substance whereas dualism entails that everything derives from two fundamental substances. They are used to distinguish between perspectives of reality that disagree on the fundamental nature of reality. Monism assumes that all of reality is derivative of one source such as spiritual being whereas dualism assumes that reality is composed of/derived from two fundamental substances, namely spiritual/immaterial/incorporeal and physical/material/corporeal. They do not contain one another. To suggest that dualism is monistic within each domain of phenomena (material and immaterial) is to change the meaning of these concepts which apply to all of reality, not subsets of it.

Cuz you know sometimes words have two meanings

"Monism" and "dualism" each have many meanings. My usage here is one of several common ones.

The Wikipedia article on monism lists seven meanings. That is not all of them by any means... but the way I am using "monism" here is roughly their #5, "existence monism." You are apparently familiar only with "substance monism," which is the most common in current American analytic philosophy.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on monism begins:

There are many monisms. What they share is that they attribute oneness. Where they differ is in what they target and how they count.

This entry focuses on two of the more historically important monisms: existence monism and priority monism.


Ben's picture

Just food for thought... I'm certainly no scholar of Islam, but I perceive that there are monist tendencies in Sufism. I can attest with some certainty that there are Western interpretations of Sufism that are very monist. Sufism has been around a relatively long time but has not managed to overtake other styles of Islam.

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This page is in the section Unity and diversity,
      which is in Doing meaning better.

The next page in this section is Boundaries, objects, and connections.

The previous page is Schematic overview: unity and diversity.

This page’s topics are Dualism, Essentialism, and Monism.

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 ©2010–2017 David Chapman.