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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dualism is a Natural Beginning

On Monday we talked about why Dualism is such a popular philosophy. Essentially, it's the easiest of the worldviews because it only requires two categories for everything. Even a child can understand the basic tenants of dualism.

And, in a way, that's the point. A child's mind isn't equipped to deal with difficult moral dilemmas. Toddlers need a clear right and wrong in order to develop in a healthy way. Children push boundaries because they want to know what the boundaries are. They crave moral clarity and a dualistic worldview offers that.

As a child develops into adolescence, they should be invited to determine their own standards from a variety of options. This is a relativistic perspective. Adolescents need to practice decision making from a relativistic perspective. The clear boundaries of childhood are dissolving as freedom increases. Adolescents have the mental capacity to engage in relativistic thought.

Adults should move beyond relativism to a principled worldview. It's one where experience, understanding and logic lead to the development of core principles for an individual that can be applied across a wide range of situations. It has the boundaries of the dualistic worldview and the personal responsibility of the relativistic worldview combined.

However, we often will distill our principles into dualism once again, or allow the principles of others to become dualism for us. This is, primarily, because a principled worldview is hard work. It takes rigorous examination, difficult life experience and considerable mental effort to sort through the various options and arrive at a viable principle. We don't want to do the hard work, so we rely on the work of others and trust their experience and examination. Their principles become our dualism.

Though dualism is a natural beginning, it's not a viable end. Extremism relies on dualism, and the best way to combat extremism is to work to move people out of a dualistic perspective and toward a principled worldview.

How have you moved away from dualism?

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