Monism vs Dualism
Monism deals with oneness whereas dualism deals with the concept of ‘two’. Between these two terms, we can identify a number of differences. Both terms are used in philosophy and have varied meanings. Let us try to understand what these two mean. Monism deals with oneness. On the other hand, dualism deals with the concept of ‘two’. According to dualism, the individual soul is different from the Supreme soul. Hence dualism deals with two entities individual soul and supreme soul separately. Monism speaks of oneness of soul. Individual soul is a part of the Supreme soul and is as good as the Supreme soul. Through this article let us examine the differences that exist between these two terms.
What is Monism?
Monism accepts oneness of everything in the universe. It sees no difference in the diversification of the universe. All are, but one is the crux of monism. Dualism sees difference between things. Dualism does not accept the unity in diversity. Monism is one of the systems of the Indian philosophy. Brahman is the Supreme entity that manifested in this universe comprising of matter and space. All other concepts such as time, energy and being have sprung forth from the Supreme Brahman. Just as a spider would create a web on its accord and withdraws it on its accord too, Brahman also would manifest itself in this universe comprising of nature and living beings and withdraws onto itself at the end of the epoch. The moment of withdrawal is called as deluge. Each and every soul is potentially divine according to monism. The divinity of man lies well within himself. He is as good as the Almighty and as powerful as Him too. Monism describes the appearance of the universe as an inexplicable phenomenon. It is called ‘Maya’ in the Indian philosophy of Advaita. Universe is just illusory in its appearance. The Brahman alone is true, and everything else around us is false.
What is Dualism?
Dualism is exactly the opposite of monism in the sense that although it speaks of the existence of the Almighty, it does not approve of unity in diversity. It does not see the oneness in all the beings. Man cannot be as powerful and potential as the God. Man has his limitations. Only the Almighty is all-powerful and all-pervading. He is omnipotent and omnipresent. Man cannot be omnipotent and omnipresent as long as he is mortal. Man is man, and God is God. Dualism is as simple as that. Dualism gets the name ‘dvaita’ in the Indian philosophy. According the tenets expounded by the exponents of the Dvaita system of philosophy, Atman or the individual self can never become Brahman or the Supreme Self. The individual self is called the ‘jiva’, and the Supreme Self is called the ‘Brahman’. The jiva cannot become one with the Brahman. Even at the time of liberation or ‘mukti’, the individual self would undergo and experience the ‘real bliss’, but it cannot be equated at any juncture with the Brahman. Brahman is also called as ‘Paramatman’. Dualism does not approve of the belief system of Monism. It does not call the universe as an inexplicable phenomenon or untrue. It would call the universe as a separate true entity apart from all powerful Brahman, the second entity that is permanent too. This highlights the differences that exist between the two terms. Now let us summarize the difference in the following manner.
What is the Difference Between Monism and Dualism?
• Monism deals with the oneness of the existence. Dualism does not approve of the oneness of the existence.
• Individual self is as good and potential as the Supreme Self according to Monism. Dualism, on the contrary, identifies them as two separate entities.
• Monism accepts the individual self merging into the Supreme Self upon liberation. Dualism, on the contrary, does not accept the merging of the individual self into the Supreme Self upon liberation.
• Individual self becomes the all-powerful Brahman according to Monism. Dualism does not agree with the view of the monists that the individual self becomes one with the Supreme Self. According to them, the individual self experiences the ‘real bliss’ but cannot be equal to the Brahman.
1.”Descartes mind and body” [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
2.”Страшный суд” by Viktor M. Vasnetsov [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons