Monism attributes oneness or singleness (Greek: μόνος) to a concept e. g. +more, existence. Various kinds of monism can be distinguished: * Priority monism states that all existing things go back to a source that is distinct from them; e. g. , in Neoplatonism everything is derived from The One. In this view only the One is ontologically basic or prior to everything else. * Existence monism posits that, strictly speaking, there exists only a single thing, the universe, which can only be artificially and arbitrarily divided into many things. * Substance monism asserts that a variety of existing things can be explained in terms of a single reality or substance. Substance monism posits that only one kind of substance exists, although many things may be made up of this substance, e. g. , matter or mind. * Dual-aspect monism is the view that the mental and the physical are two aspects of, or perspectives on, the same substance. * Neutral monism believes the fundamental nature of reality to be neither mental nor physical; in other words it is "neutral".

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Definitions

There are two sorts of definitions for monism: # The wide definition: a philosophy is monistic if it postulates unity of the origin of all things; all existing things return to a source that is distinct from them. # The restricted definition: this requires not only unity of origin but also unity of substance and essence.

Although the term monism is derived from Western philosophy to typify positions in the mind-body problem, it has also been used to typify religious traditions. In modern Hinduism, the term "absolute monism" is used for Advaita Vedanta.

History

The term monism was introduced in the 18th century by Christian von Wolff in his work Logic (1728), to designate types of philosophical thought in which the attempt was made to eliminate the dichotomy of body and mind and explain all phenomena by one unifying principle, or as manifestations of a single substance.

The mind-body problem in philosophy examines the relationship between mind and matter, and in particular the relationship between consciousness and the brain. The problem was addressed by René Descartes in the 17th century, resulting in Cartesian dualism, and by pre-Aristotelian philosophers, in Avicennian philosophy, and in earlier Asian and more specifically Indian traditions.

It was later also applied to the theory of absolute identity set forth by Hegel and Schelling. Thereafter the term was more broadly used, for any theory postulating a unifying principle. +more The opponent thesis of dualism also was broadened, to include pluralism. According to Urmson, as a result of this extended use, the term is "systematically ambiguous".

According to Jonathan Schaffer, monism lost popularity due to the emergence of analytic philosophy in the early twentieth century, which revolted against the neo-Hegelians. Rudolf Carnap and +more_J. _Ayer'>A. J. Ayer, who were strong proponents of positivism, "ridiculed the whole question as incoherent mysticism".

The mind-body problem has reemerged in social psychology and related fields, with the interest in mind-body interaction and the rejection of Cartesian mind-body dualism in the identity thesis, a modern form of monism. Monism is also still relevant to the philosophy of mind, where various positions are defended.

Types

Different types of monism include: # Substance monism, "the view that the apparent plurality of substances is due to different states or appearances of a single substance" # Attributive monism, "the view that whatever the number of substances, they are of a single ultimate kind" # Partial monism, "within a given realm of being (however many there may be) there is only one substance" # Existence monism, "the view that there is only one concrete object token (The One, "Τὸ Ἕν" or the Monad)" # Priority monism, "the whole is prior to its parts" or "the world has parts, but the parts are dependent fragments of an integrated whole" # Property monism, "the view that all properties are of a single type (e. g. +more, only physical properties exist)" # Genus monism, "the doctrine that there is a highest category; e. g. , being".

Views contrasting with monism are: * Metaphysical dualism, which asserts that there are two ultimately irreconcilable substances or realities such as Good and Evil, for example, Manichaeism. * Metaphysical pluralism, which asserts three or more fundamental substances or realities. +more * Metaphysical nihilism, negates any of the above categories (substances, properties, concrete objects, etc. ).

Monism in modern philosophy of mind can be divided into three broad categories:

Certain positions do not fit easily into the above categories, such as functionalism, anomalous monism, and reflexive monism. Moreover, they do not define the meaning of "real".

Monistic philosophers

Pre-Socratic

While the lack of information makes it difficult in some cases to be sure of the details, the following pre-Socratic philosophers thought in monistic terms: * Thales: Water * Anaximander: Apeiron (meaning 'the undefined infinite'). Reality is some, one thing, but we cannot know what. +more * Anaximenes of Miletus: Air * Heraclitus: Change, symbolized by fire (in that everything is in constant flux). * Parmenides: Being or Reality is an unmoving perfect sphere, unchanging, undivided.

Post-Socrates

Neopythagorians such as Apollonius of Tyana centered their cosmologies on the Monad or One. * Stoics taught that there is only one substance, identified as God. +more * Middle Platonism under such works as those by Numenius taught that the Universe emanates from the Monad or One. * Neoplatonism is monistic. Plotinus taught that there was an ineffable transcendent god, 'The One,' of which subsequent realities were emanations. From The One emanates the Divine Mind (Nous), the Cosmic Soul (Psyche), and the World (Cosmos).

Modern

Alexander Bogdanov * +more_Bradley'>F. H. Bradley * Giordano Bruno * Gilles Deleuze * Friedrich Engels * Johann Gottlieb Fichte * Ernst Haeckel * Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel * Christopher Langan * Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz * Giacomo Leopardi * Ernst Mach * Karl Marx * Wilhelm Ostwald * Charles Sanders Peirce * Georgi Plekhanov * Michael Della Rocca * Bertrand Russell * Gilbert Ryle * Jonathan Schaffer * Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling * Arthur Schopenhauer * Rupert Sheldrake * B. F. Skinner * Herbert Spencer * Baruch Spinoza * Rudolf Steiner * Alan Watts * Alfred North Whitehead.

Religion

Pantheism

Pantheism is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God, or that the universe (or nature) is identical with divinity. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or anthropomorphic god, but believe that interpretations of the term differ.

Pantheism was popularized in the modern era as both a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, whose Ethics was an answer to Descartes' famous dualist theory that the body and spirit are separate. Spinoza held that the two are the same, and this monism is a fundamental quality of his philosophy. +more He was described as a "God-intoxicated man," and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance. Although the term pantheism was not coined until after his death, Spinoza is regarded as its most celebrated advocate.

H. P. Owen claimed that [wiki_quote=9455f103]

Pantheism is closely related to monism, as pantheists too believe all of reality is one substance, called Universe, God or Nature. Panentheism, a slightly different concept (explained below), however is dualistic. +more Some of the most famous pantheists are the Stoics, Giordano Bruno and Spinoza.

Panentheism

Panentheism (from Greek (pân) "all"; (en) "in"; and (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system that posits that the divine (be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force) interpenetrates every part of nature, but is not one with nature. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe.

In panentheism, there are two types of substance, "pan" the universe and God. The universe and the divine are not ontologically equivalent. +more God is viewed as the eternal animating force within the universe. In some forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn "transcends", "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos.

While pantheism asserts that 'All is God', panentheism claims that God animates all of the universe, and also transcends the universe. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God, like in the Judaic concept of Tzimtzum. +more Much Hindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism.

Paul Tillich has argued for such a concept within Christian theology, as has liberal biblical scholar Marcus Borg and mystical theologian Matthew Fox, an Episcopal priest.

Pandeism

Pandeism or pan-deism (from πᾶν|pan|all and deus meaning "god" in the sense of deism), is a term describing beliefs coherently incorporating or mixing logically reconcilable elements of pantheism (that "God", or a metaphysically equivalent creator deity, is identical to Nature) and classical deism (that the creator-god who designed the universe no longer exists in a status where it can be reached, and can instead be confirmed only by reason). It is therefore most particularly the belief that the creator of the universe actually became the universe, and so ceased to exist as a separate entity.

Through this synergy pandeism claims to answer primary objections to deism (why would God create and then not interact with the universe?) and to pantheism (how did the universe originate and what is its purpose?).

Indian religions

Characteristics

The central problem in Asian (religious) philosophy is not the body-mind problem, but the search for an unchanging Real or Absolute beyond the world of appearances and changing phenomena, and the search for liberation from dukkha and the liberation from the cycle of rebirth. In Hinduism, substance-ontology prevails, seeing Brahman as the unchanging real beyond the world of appearances. +more In Buddhism, process ontology is prevalent, seeing reality as empty of an unchanging essence.

Characteristic for various Asian religions is the discernment of levels of truth, an emphasis on intuitive-experiential understanding of the Absolute such as jnana, bodhi and kensho, and an emphasis on the integration of these levels of truth and its understanding.

Buddhism

According to the Pāli Canon, both pluralism (nānatta) and monism (ekatta) are speculative views. A Theravada commentary notes that the former is similar to or associated with nihilism (ucchēdavāda), and the latter is similar to or associated with eternalism (sassatavada).

In the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism, the ultimate nature of the world is described as Śūnyatā or "emptiness", which is inseparable from sensorial objects or anything else. That appears to be a monist position, but the Madhyamaka views - including variations like rangtong and shentong - will refrain from asserting any ultimately existent entity. +more They instead deconstruct any detailed or conceptual assertions about ultimate existence as resulting in absurd consequences. The Yogacara view, a minority school now only found among the Mahayana, also rejects monism.

Sikhism

Sikhism complies with the concept of Priority Monism. Sikh philosophy advocates that all that our senses comprehend is an illusion; God is the sole reality. +more Forms being subject to time shall pass away. God's Reality alone is eternal and abiding. The thought is that Atma (soul) is born from, and a reflection of, ParamAtma (Supreme Soul), and "will again merge into it", in the words of the fifth guru of Sikhs, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, "just as water merges back into the water. ".

God and Soul are fundamentally the same; identical in the same way as Fire and its sparks. "Atam meh Ram, Ram meh Atam" which means "The Ultimate Eternal reality resides in the Soul and the Soul is contained in Him". +more As from one stream, millions of waves arise and yet the waves, made of water, again become water; in the same way all souls have sprung from the Universal Being and would blend again into it.

Abrahamic faiths

Judaism

Jewish thought considers God as separate from all physical, created things and as existing outside of time.

According to Maimonides, God is an incorporeal being that caused all other existence. According to Maimonides, to admit corporeality to God is tantamount to admitting complexity to God, which is a contradiction to God as the first cause and constitutes heresy. +more While Hasidic mystics considered the existence of the physical world a contradiction to God's simpleness, Maimonides saw no contradiction.

According to Hasidic thought (particularly as propounded by the 18th century, early 19th-century founder of Chabad, Shneur Zalman of Liadi), God is held to be immanent within creation for two interrelated reasons: # A very strong Jewish belief is that "[t]he Divine life-force which brings [the universe] into existence must constantly be present . +more were this life-force to forsake [the universe] for even one brief moment, it would revert to a state of utter nothingness, as before the creation . " # Simultaneously, Judaism holds as axiomatic that God is an absolute unity, and that he is perfectly simple, thus, if his sustaining power is within nature, then his essence is also within nature.

The Vilna Gaon was very much against this philosophy, for he felt that it would lead to pantheism and heresy. According to some this is the main reason for the Gaon's ban on Chasidism.

Baháʼí Faith

Although the teachings of the Baháʼí Faith have a strong emphasis on social and ethical issues, there exist a number of foundational texts that have been described as mystical. Some of these include statements of a monist nature (e. +moreg. , The Seven Valleys and the Hidden Words). The differences between dualist and monist views are reconciled by the teaching that these opposing viewpoints are caused by differences in the observers themselves, not in that which is observed. This is not a 'higher truth/lower truth' position. God is unknowable. For man it is impossible to acquire any direct knowledge of God or the Absolute, because any knowledge that one has, is relative.

Non-dualism

According to nondualism, many forms of religion are based on an experiential or intuitive understanding of "the Real". Nondualism, a modern reinterpretation of these religions, prefers the term "nondualism", instead of monism, because this understanding is "nonconceptual", "not graspable in an idea".

To these nondual traditions belong Hinduism (including Vedanta, some forms of Yoga, and certain schools of Shaivism), Taoism, Pantheism, Rastafari, and similar systems of thought.

Notes

Sources