Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

pp 538-541


Dualism Across the Domains

“Dualism” (from the Latin dualis, meaning “containing two”) refers to a philosophical system or set of beliefs in which existence is believed to consist of two equally real and essential substances (such as mind and matter) and/or categories (such as being and nonbeing, good and bad, subject and object). Dualism contrasts with monism, the theory that existence ultimately consists of only one thing or essence, and also with pluralism, the belief that existence is made up of many things or essences (Ajaya 1983; Gordon 2005).

Although the term can be applied to much earlier philosophical and religious traditions, “dualism” as an ontological designation was first used in 1700 by the philosopher Thomas Hyde as a means of describing religious systems that conceive of God and the Devil as coeternal (and therefore equal) principles. The term was later introduced into philosophical discourse by the German Idealist Christian Wolff as a way of ca ...

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