Find us on Google+

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why is Dualism so Popular?

Among the ways to look at the world, dualism is, perhaps, the most simplistic and most common. I don't believe that correlation is a coincidence.

First, what is dualism? It's a philosophy or belief system with two mutually exclusive parts or ideas. Moral dualism states that there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. Metaphysical dualism separates matter and spirit into separate realms. Philosophical dualism sees two essences in the world - like Yin and Yang.

Of all the ways to view the world, dualism is the easiest. It requires the least effort on the part of the individual to figure out. Once you've decided the categories, you just lump everything into one or the other. If something doesn't quite fit a category, you enlarge one of them to encompass it. Eventually your two, mutually exclusive groups categorize all things.

But dualism is a forced reduction of complex ideas, often beyond what they can bear. For example, if you are a metaphysical dualist, then things are only matter or only spirit. How can people exist? They are either pretending to be physical (or trapped in the physical form and yearning to be released) or they are pretending to be spiritual and are only physical. This completely ignores the complex interaction between spirit and body that happens in each person and tends to vilify matter (from a spiritual perspective) or to vilify the spirit (from a materialistic perspective). Only one category in a dualistic worldview can be good, so either matter must be bad or spirit must be bad.

Moral dualism is the basis for conflict and hatred in the world. Thought it's a reductio ad absurdum, moral dualism assumes that everyone and everything are either good or bad. I must be good; therefore, if you disagree with me you are bad. If you are bad, then I'm justified in hating you, as I should hate evil. Since I hate evil, I'm justified in fighting you and killing you.

Then why, oh why, do we continue in dualistic worldviews? What do you think?

No comments: