Metaphysics and Monism

Topics: Metaphysics, Materialism, Philosophy Pages: 3 (989 words) Published: November 27, 2005
People are monists, dualists or pluralists depending on whether or not they believe that reality is composed of one, two or more substances. These positions may be represented as here indicated. Hindus, Buddhists and Animists are for the most part monists. They believe that reality is one and that everything that exists is a functioning part of that whole which is spirit. Western man for the most part may be called a monist also as he believes that God is dead and matter is the only substance to reality. Bible believing Christians would be pluralists. In philosophy of mind, monism is usually contrasted with the dualist position that mind and matter are deeply different. Thus, monism is the claim that mind and matter essentially the same. However, this 'sameness' has come in a number of different and contradictory varieties. For example, Hobbes felt that the mental is merely and epiphenomena of the physical, thus the physical is the one real substance (Contemporary materialism is also a form of physicalistic monism (see Churchland, 1996). In direct contrast, Berkeley postulated that the physical is just a collection of ideas (hence, idealism) and thus the mental is the only thing that really exists. Finally, there are a number of positions similar to Spinoza's property dualism, often referred to as dual-aspect theory. Spinoza held a position in which the mental and the physical are simply two modes of a more basic substance (it should be noted that strictly speaking, Spinoza was not a property dualist as he held that the mental and the physical were two of a possible infinite number of modes of the basic substance, nevertheless he is typically labeled as one). For Spinoza, this basic substance was God. Thus the only real thing is God, who is neither physical nor mental. Spinoza's position is similar to that of Russell's neutral monism, however the latter is not committed to the belief that a supreme being is the more basic substance. General Information

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