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DUALISM . As a category within the history and phenomenology of religion, dualism may be defined as a doctrine that posits the existence of two fundamental causal principles underlying the existence (or, as in the case of the Indian notion of maya as opposed to atman, the painful appearance of the existence) of the world. In addition, dualistic doctrines, worldviews, or myths represent the basic components of the world, or of humans, as participating in the ontological opposition and disparity of value that characterize their dual principles. In this specific religio-historical sense, dualism is to be distinguished from the more general philosophical doctrines of transcendence and metaphysical irreducibility, which are opposed to monistic or pantheistic doctrines of immanence. This article will examine dualism only in the former sense, as a religio-historical phenomenon. It begins with a systematic overview of the nature and types of dualism, then proceeds to a closer examination of some specific historical instances.

As a religio-historical phenomenon, dualism is more specific than either simple duality or polarity. Not every duality or polarity is dualisticonly those that involve the duality or polarity of causal principles. Thus not every pair of opposites (such as male and female, right and left, light and darkness, good and bad, spirit and matter, and sacred and profane) can be labeled as dualistic, even when their opposition is emphasized. They are dualistic only when they are understood as principles or causes of the world and its constitutive elements. In addition, in order for pairs of opposites to be dualistic, it is not necessary that they be mutually irreducible or coeternal. Indeed, one may be the creation of the other, as in the dualistic doctrine of the Bogomils, where Satan, created by God, is in turn the creator of the human body. In short, there is no dualism where there is no question of cosmogony or anthropogony, where there is no account of the principles responsible for bringing the world and humans into existence. This means that a concept of mere ethical dualism, stressing the moral opposition between good and evil and their respective protagonists (as in the Christian concepts of God and the devil), is not properly dualistic in the religio-historical and phenomenological senseunless, however, good and evil are also connected with opposite ontological principles, as in Zoroastrianism and in Manichaeism. The simple contrasting of good and evil, life and death, light and darkness, and so on is in fact coextensive with religion itself and cannot be equated with the much more specific phenomenon of dualism.

Dualism in Religio-Historical, Philosophical and Sociological Discourse

In 1700 the English Orientalist Thomas Hyde (16361703) used in his Historia religionis veterum Persarum (1700) the term "dualistae" in reference to the ancient religion of the Persians, whom he described as professing a belief in two principlesrespectively the Light and Good one and the Dark and Evil one, a belief he traced to Zarathushtra. Subsequently, the terms "dualist" and "duality" were employed in reference to Zarathushtra by Pierre Bayle and Gottfried Leibnitz, and in 1734 Christian Wolff in his Psychologia rationalis introduced the term "dualism" to define philosophical systems like that of René Descartes (15961650), which posit that mind and matter are two distinct substances. Subsequently, the term came into use for philosophical descriptions of Cartesianism, the mind-body problem, and the doctrines of transcendence. More generally, the term dualism came to be applied also to philosophical systems that contained important and paradigmatic pairs of oppositions like that of Plato, with its dualities between the mortal body and the immortal soul, the "One" and the "Many," the finite and the infinite, as well as the world perceived by the senses and the world of eternal ideas comprehended by the mind or the Kantian ontological distinction between the phenomenal and the noumenal world.

Although the term "dualism" entered forcefully into philosophical terminology, theories, and arguments, in the field of religious history and theology throughout the nineteenth century, it would retain its original association with Zarathushtra and the ancient Persian religion. The development of Oriental scholarship, the history of religions, and ethnology in the second half of the nineteenth century, however, led to the application of the term beyond ancient Iran in the discussions of the religions of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, the Greek and the Hellenistic worldparticularly with regard to some currents in Pre-Socratic philosophic traditions, Orphism and Pythagoreanism)and the first studies trying to identify dualist strands in the preliterate cultures of North America and Eurasia. Consequently there appeared the first attempts to determine the place of religious dualism in the history of religions on the whole. Dualism came to be variously defined as a reaction against monotheism; as an intermediate phase of passage between polytheism and monotheism; as a protest against the presence of evil in the world; as a corrective to monism's tendency to effect a premature synthesis (Rudolf Eucken); and as a response to the experience of irrationality in the world (Max Weber).

Another approach to the problem in which dualism and monotheism are treated as intimately related phenomena was also to find its early expressions in literature, for example, in Ludwig Stein's Dualismus oder Monismus (1909). The widening of the scope of the study of religious dualism in the early twentieth century was also effected by the historical-critical methods of inquiry introduced by the Religionsgeschitliche Schule. At the same time, the prominent focus on the impact of ancient Iran and Mesopotamia on Judaism, Christianity, and Gnosticism in the most influential works of the Religionsgeschitliche Schule, as well as the postulation of Iranian redemption mythslike that of the "redeemed redeemer," believed by Richard Reitzenstein to have crucially influenced Gnosticismhelped to retain what should have been by then an anachronistic paradigm of Iran as the cradleland of religious dualism.

Meanwhile, the contemporary advance in research in the dual organization of a number of mainly preliterate societies generated increasing interest among anthropologists and sociologists in its origins, development, and ways of functioning. This had direct implications for the study of dualism, polarity, and contrariety in religious and cultural history. Coupled with the widening exploration and understanding of the phenomenon of dual symbolic classification in such preliterate (as well as some later) societies, this led to the conceptualization of some influential anthropological and sociological approaches to the problem of dualism and dual social organization. For Emile Durkheim and his followers, as well as related theoristslike the Russian scholar A. Zolotarevthe bipartite classification of society and the world (and the related religious and mythological/cosmological notions) had its origins in dual models developed in society itself. Other scholars favored "historical" explanations for the rise of social organization of a binary typedecoded largely as a consequence of the historical mixture of two different ethnic entities.

Although making some major contributions to the study of dual social organizations, particularly in relation to the use of dual symbolic classification and religious traditions such as the cult of the divine twins, these historicizing and sociologizing approaches were frequently marred by obvious reductionism. According to the influential alternative approach offered by the structural anthropology of Claude Lévi-Strauss and his followers, the principles of dual social organization derive from a "deep structure" operating unconsciously in the human mind, one of whose most important mechanisms is that of the binary opposition intrinsic to the mind's perception of the world.

Structural anthropology stimulated a number of studies and widespread debates across a range of fields, ranging from whether binary differentiation and oppositions form the primal and permanent basis of human consciousness and culture (including theories that it could be related to the bicamerality of the human mind) to their posited correlations with the general formal characteristics of language and the diffusion and history of binary systems of thought and action in various civilizations. The studies and debates also ranged from preliterate societies, to the use of a "polar mode of thought" in classical Greece and China, and the preoccupation of binary opposites and contrariety in medieval and early modern Europe.

The resultant expanding study of binary social organizations and symbolic classifications on the whole, and separate problemssuch as the correlation between beliefs/cosmology based on the binary cosmos of certain cultures and the related social institutions (binary or not)has not always distinguished sufficiently the term dualism from duality, polarity, contrariety, and oppositional thought. With the prevalent focus being on the sociological or psychological interpretation of religion, this has led to some ambiguity and uncritical use in the application of the term dualism in anthropological and sociological discourse, as well as a frequent lack of terminological specification, which has to be contrasted with the terminologically well-defined usage of the term in philosophical discourse gradually established throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Indeed the term dualism may have originally been introduced in a religio-historical framework, but the parameters of its legitimate and specific usage were determined earlier in philosophical discoursethis process was somewhat delayed in religious studies of the phenomenon, at least prior to the appearance of the first more systematic works on religious dualism. The unearthing and publication of new sources for Manichaeism between the two World Wars, and the eventual discovery of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic corpus in 1945, revolutionized the study of Gnosticism and led to increasing numbers of studies, such as Hans Jonas's The Gnostic Religion (1958), that focused on various aspects of Gnostic dualism. Employing the newly redefined methods of form criticism, redaction history, and tradition history, these studies revisited and reassessed the theories and arguments of the Religionsgeschitliche Schule regarding the origins of Gnostic dualism, and often broke into completely new territories.

A new stage in the research on religious dualism and a movement towards the accomplishment of its Weltgeschichte was inaugurated in the studies of Ugo Bianchi between 1958 and 1995. Among the many contributions of these studies was the elaboration of a systematic typology of dualism with the simultaneous and balanced use of comparative-historical and phenomenological approaches to the various historical and theological problems posed by dualist traditions (pertaining to, among others, diffusion, cultural exchange, parallel development, and acculturation). Thus depth, meticulousness, and variety were finally given to the religio-historical senses in which dualism can be validly used. Bianchi's discussions, typology, and definitions of dualismwhich integrated material both from literate and nonliterate religionshave recently been further elaborated, specified, and in some cases challenged by other scholars working in the various fields of religious studies.

Role in Monotheism, Polytheism, and Monism

In the historical phenomenology of religion, dualism need not be opposed necessarily to either monotheism, polytheism, or monism.

Dualism in monotheism

Dualistic manifestations of monotheism can be found in the Gathas of the Zoroastrian Avesta and in Christian Gnosticism. Here one finds an ontologically inferior and often demonic figure, such as Ahriman (Angra Mainyu) in the Avesta or the Prince of Darkness in Manichaeism or the psychic demiurge in Gnosticism, all of which exist as a second principle along with the supreme God. Only in Marcionism does this dualism lead beyond monotheism to a properly ditheistic doctrine (the supreme god of perfect goodness, as opposed to the inferior god of "justice"). Additionally, some forms of non-Gnostic Christian speculation deeply influenced by Platonism can be regarded as dualistic. Rather than a Gnostic belief in two irreducible agencies that account for the existence of humans and the universe, there is in the speculation a belief in the fundamental opposition of the immaterial human soul and the materialthat is, physicalbody. Although present here is the same God who creates both the soul and the body, the occasion for the creation of the latter is the primordial sin of what were originally "incorporeal"that is, not bound to a material bodyrational souls. This primordial sin can accordingly be viewed as a second principle or cause that motivates God to create the human body in its present constitution and the visible world in which people must live until the final apocatastasis, or restoration of his primordial, "immaterial" condition.

Such is the picture presented by the platonizing anthropology of Origen (c. 185c. 254 ce. In this case, one can speak of an anthropological dualism, which implies not only the dual constituents of soul and body, but more importantly a duality of causes: the omnipotent will of God and the sin of a created soul, the latter motivating the creation of the human physiological body and the material world. Clearly, sin is not to be understood here as the efficient cause of this "second creation"; it merely motivates the subsequent (second) creative act of God. Rather, sin is to be understood here as "previous sin," as distinct from the original sin of Adam. Whereas the latter was committed by Adam as a fully corporeal man, this "previous sin" was committed by the preexisting souls in a kind of "prologue in heaven." Elements of this Origenian tradition of anthropological dualism are also found in Gregory of Nyssa, who thought that God created the human (sexual) body because of his foreknowledge of the (not sexual) sin of Adam and his fall from paradise.

One finds a somewhat different form of non-Gnostic, dualistic monotheism in certain Jewish thinkers who admit the existence of angelic agents who cooperate with God the creator. In Philo Judaeus (c. 20 bce after 42 ce), for instance, these angels are particularly concerned with the creation of people or their lower constituents. Philo shows here the clear influence of Plato, who in his Timaeus had opposed the great Demiurge, creator of the immortal part of the soul, and the "generated gods," whom the Demiurge appoints to create the lower, mortal parts of the soul and the human body.

Needless to say, dualistic formulations of monotheism were criticized by Christian theologians, who sought to avoid any limitation of the absolute creativity of God. Nevertheless, it should be noted that some of the abovementioned conceptions (those of Philo and Plato) were originally intended to safeguard God's innocence in relation to evil. Thus the Platonists attributed human evil not to God, but to the freedom of the will and to the corporeal nature of humans.

Dualism in polytheism

Dualistic conceptions can also be found in polytheism. In some polytheistic cosmogonies there is an opposition between two distinct causal principles, represented on the one hand by the older, semipersonal archai, or principles of an elementary character, and on the other by a new race of youthful and energetic gods. Thus Ouranos, in the cosmogony of Hesiod, and Apsu, in the Mesopotamian Enuma elish, are each violently opposed in their egocentrism and ontological passivity by new gods, among whom figures a wise and energetic demiurge who creates or sets in order the world, apportions lots, and fixes destinies. It should be noted that in this type of cosmogony, the vanquished primordial entities do not completely lose their sacredness. Ouranos, for instance, retains a prophetic function, Apsu remains pure, and Vrtra (an analogous figure in Vedic cosmogony) remains a brahman. In other words, the character of these primordial entities, fated to a final defeat and transformed substantially into the elements of the universe, is far from demonic; they remain different from the aggressive beings that characterize the Zoroastrian and Gnostic worldviews.

Dualism in monism

Finally, even monism can be expressed in dualistic terms. This is the case, paradoxically enough, in the classical Advaita doctrine of Sankara (c. 788820), and in other systems that reduce the multiplicity of the material world to illusionthat is, to metaphysical nonexistence. These systems in fact correspond to the definition of dualism put forth earlier, inasmuch as maya (illusion), though ontologically insubstantial, nevertheless gives rise to the phenomenal world and its suffering. Instances of dualistic monism can be found outside India as well. In Greece the monistic doctrine of Parmenides is not without dualistic overtones, with its opposition between truth and opinion (doxa ) a distinction that was also proper to Plato. More profoundly intermingled, and at the same time opposed, are the coeternal principles of Love and Discord in the ontology and cosmology of Empedocles. One also thinks of Heraclitus's essentially dualistic doctrine of "war" (polemos ), where the "way downward" and the "way upward" oppose each other, all within the context of the axiological preeminence attributed to the principle of Logos, which has as its material aspect fire.

Types of Dualism

In order to provide a more systematic examination of dualism, it is necessary to review a typology of its basic forms. These forms, however, require verification through comparative historical research. From the systematic point of view, every form of dualism may be classified by type as either radical or moderate, either dialectical or eschatological, and as either cosmic (or procosmic) or anticosmic. Each of these pairs is examined in turn below.

Radical versus moderate

Radical dualism and moderate dualism may be distinguished from each other on the basis of their respective views of the two fundamental principles. Radical dualism admits two coequal and coeternal principles (in the sense that both of them exist and act from the very beginning, whatever may be their final destiny; see below). Late Avestan and medieval Zoroastrianism, as well as the early Gathic doctrine of the two primordial spirits, are examples of such radical dualism. In particular, the two Gathic spirits are to be understood as existing independently from the beginning of the world with their perfectly contrary natures. Notwithstanding the interpretation given by most Iranologists, the conflicting moral choices of the two Gathic spirits between asha (Truth) and druj (Untruth) means merely the declaration of their inborn natures, and the bad spirit has nothing in common with Ahura Mazda, the high god. That the Gathic spirits are mentioned in the Gathas as "twins" does not imply more than their being symmetrical and contrary in essence to each other. (Manichaeism and some varieties of medieval Catharism also belong within this form.) Among the Greeks there exists a radical dualism in Orphism, with its conception of the kuklos tes geneseos ("the cycle of birth") and the dualistic implications of its metaphysics; in Empedocles' theory of the two opposed principles of Love and Discord; in Heraclitus; and in Plato's doctrines of the two alternating revolutions of the world, mentioned in the Statesman, and of the coeternity of the Ideas and the "receptacle" (chora). There are also several forms of radical dualism in India, particularly in the Samkhya system, with its opposed principles of purusa and prakrti.

Unlike the radical dualism, moderate (or monarchian) dualism exhibits only one primordial principle, while a second principle somehow derives from the first, often through an incident that took place in a kind of prologue in heaven. This second principle then plays a central role in bringing the world into existence. Many of the Gnostic systems provide examples of moderate dualism, in particular the systems of Valentinus, where the structure of the divine, pneumatic world (the pleroma ) allows for the possibility of a fall in heaven. The fall of Sophia, the last Aion, is a result of her location on the periphery of the divine pleroma. This dangerous position amounts to a kind of predestination. Although this does not destroy the moderate, or monarchian, character of Valentinianism, it does show that Gnostic metaphysics here includes a concept of crisis or instability in the divine that is fundamentally dualistic. It also provides evidence of Gnosticism's connections with other speculative trends during the Hellenistic period, such as the Orphic, Pythagorean, and Platonic traditions. Other examples of moderate dualism are the anthropogony of Plato's Timaeus, and medieval sects (some of the Cathari and the Bogomils).

Evidence of radical or moderate dualism among nonliterate cultures is ambiguous, and this fact may be significant for an understanding of the formation process of dualistic ideologies and creeds. Thus, whereas the Algonquin myth of the two brothers Ioskeha and Tawiskaron, born of Ataentsic (a primordial female being) can be traced to a type of radical dualismbecause the brothers have, respectively, a positive and negative relation to creation from the beginningother American myths of a dualistic character are different. They may present a supreme being who in the beginning is unopposed but is later joined by a second figure of unknown origin who begins to interfere in the creation process. The unknown origin of the rival, who is often characterized as a demiurgic trickster, may be intended to indicate that his earlier absence was really an unmanifested presence, and that he is in fact an integral part of a single, all-inclusive scenario.

The same seems to be true of the North American myth of Nih'asa (or Napiwa), the "hard man" who arrives late, his origin unknown. He succeeds in taking control of the earth with the creator god's permission, but then immediately acts against the latter's purposes. The less tragic Chukchi myth of the primordial times conveys the same impression. The supreme being creates everything, but forgets to create Raven (who in other Northeast Asian myths is a trickster and a secondary demiurge). The supreme being's forgetfulness points to the fact that Raven is implicitly, even before his birth, a constituent element of the universe. In fact, the myth tells us that he comes into being in darkness, during the night following creation, born of a creator god's abandoned garment. Thus the creator is, in one way or another, responsible for the totality of existence, and Raven owes his existence to a kind of inborn necessity.

It would seem, therefore, that the most ancient formulations (or at least the simplest) did not choose between the two possibilities of radical and moderate dualism. Perhaps such an alternative was not recognized. Such may also have been the case with what we have called the moderate dualism of the Valentinians and of other Gnostics and sectarians, whose mythologies are frequently reminiscent of the dualistic scenarios of archaic cultures.

In this connection one may also mention the mythologies of the Yazīdīs, the Ahl-i Haqq, and the dualistic myths and legends found in the folklore of eastern Europe. The latter have been influenced both by the doctrines of the Bogomils, who themselves drew upon certain Christian apocryphal writings; but they also have some features in common with the dualistic mythologies found among the Tatars of the Altai and among other Turkish and Mongolian populations of Central Asia.

Dialectical versus eschatological dualism

Dialectical dualism may be distinguished from eschatological dualism by the fact that the two irreducible principles recognized by the former function eternally, whereas in the latter case they do not. In dialectical dualism the two principles are often conceived of as good and evil, respectively, both in the ethical and metaphysical sense. Samples are to be found in Orphic speculation on the one and the many, in Empedocles and Heraclitus, and in Platonism. The Hindu opposition of atman and maya also represents this type of dualism, as does the Chinese ideology of yin and yang, and various theosophical speculations.

The distinctive feature of eschatological dualism is the belief that the evil principle will be overcome at the end of history. Examples of this type of belief can be found in Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Gnosticism, Bogomilism, and Catharism. As can be seen from this list, many forms of eschatological dualism are historically dependent on doctrines within Christianity, where soteriology is strongly eschatological (though nondualistic). Similarly, some forms of dialectical dualism are connected with monistic speculations. It should also be noted that whereas dialectical dualism is always radical dualism, eschatological dualism can be grounded on either radical dualism, as in the case of Zoroastrianism and the Manichaeism influenced by it, or on moderate dualism, such as one finds in most Gnostic traditions, in Bogomilism, and in Catharism.

Cosmic (Procosmic) versus anticosmic dualism

Cosmic and anticosmic forms of dualism are distinguished by their attitudes towards the world. Cosmic dualism contends that creation is fundamentally good, and evil comes to it from the outside. Zoroastrianism can be named as a typical example. Anticosmic dualism contends, to the contrary, that evil is intrinsic to the world and present in an essentially negative or delusive principle or substance such as matter, the body, or the inferior soul. Examples here include Orphism, Gnosticism, Manichaeism, Bogomilism, Catharism, and certain forms of Hinduism. In Manichaeism, for instance, we find the notion of the world as being made out of the dark, material substance of demons, molded by a divine demiurge, the Spiritus Vivens. The cosmos is created as a providential engine in order to permit the progressive liberation of the souls trapped within it, which are eventually guided to the heavenly paradise.

Other Typologies of Religious Dualism

With the expansion of research on religious dualism, other typologies have also been put forward that should be taken into account when considering separate disciplines like that of Dead Sea Scrolls studies, in which such alternative typologies of dualism have become more influential. Some modern scholars have added more dichotomies to the above scheme of Bianchi's three pairs, as in the case of Ioan Coulianu, who added to the scheme the dichotomy of antihylic (against matter) versus prohylic dualism (The Tree of Gnosis, 1992), while effectively not recognizing mitigated dualist teachings as belonging to religious dualism and, accordingly, the first pair in Bianchi's typology. In her Le Dieu Separé (Paris, 1984) Simone Pétrement puts the main focus on the dichotomy of horizontal dualism (where the division is between beings on the same level as in Zoroastrian and Qumran dualism) and vertical dualism (where the division is between realities of different levels as in Platonic, Christian, and Gnostic dualism as well as the Cartesian and Kantian systems). A. H. Armstrong ("Dualism: Platonic, Gnostic, and Christian," 1992) proposes as a main dichotomy a distinction between cosmic dualism, which perceives the whole existence as constituted by the interaction of two opposite principles, and two-world dualism, which posits the division between two levels of reality, the normal and the higher one. The cosmic dualism in this scheme is further divided into four varieties: conflict-dualism of the Iranian pattern, in which the two principles are intrinsically opposed and in a constant conflict; dualism in which the two principles are seen as independent but complementary or interacting in harmonyas frequently speculated in Chinese thought; and two types of dualism in which the second principle derives from the first, accordingly either in revolt or opposition against the first principle, or in harmony and collaboration with it.

Another kind of typology of religious dualism is widely used in the study of the Qumran texts and differing from Bianchi's scheme in several important respects. Advanced by James H. Charlesworth and elaborated by other Qumran scholars, it distinguishes ten types of dualistic thought: metaphysical dualism, denoting the opposition of two prominent causal powers of equal standing; cosmic dualism, expressing the division of the universe and humankind into opposed forces of good and evilwhich are, however, not viewed as coeternal or causal; spatial dualism, which divides the world in two spatially differentiated parts, like heaven and earth; and eschatological dualism focused on the bisection of the world into two temporally separated parts like the present age and the future one (also referred to as spatial dualism); ethical dualism, indicating the splitting up of humanity into two mutually exclusive camps on the basis of their adherence to virtue or vice; soteriological dualism, signifying the bisection of humans into two groups on the basis of their acceptance or rejection of a messianic figure; theological dualism, denoting the contrast between God and humans or the creator and his creation (a contrast approaching genuine dualism only when the element of antagonism between the two is accentuated); physical dualism, referring to the radical separation between spirit and matter; anthropological dualism, designating the contrariety between body and soul as dissimilar principles of being (obviously related to the previous type of physical dualism) and finally, psychological dualism, denoting the opposition of two principles or impulsesgood and evilwithin people and struggling to prevail upon them. It is obvious that the types of cosmic and eschatological dualism refer to different kinds of dualist concepts in this typology and Bianchi's scheme, differences that should be reckoned with when dealing with studies in the relevant fields

Relative Importance of Types

A general consideration of the typologies that have just been presented permits one to make several interesting observations. First of all, the first oppositionthat between radical and moderate forms of dualismseems to be the least significant. This calls into question the frequent assumption that dualism in its genuine form implies the coeternity of the two principles. That this particular alternative caused important clashes in the Cathar churches of the Western Middle Ages should not lead us to overestimate its importance. The fundamental ambiguity involved in the question of the origin of the rival of God, the demiurge-trickster, in the dualistic mythologies of a number of nonliterate cultures points rather to the relative unimportance of this opposition. From the metaphysical point of view, the second form of typological opposition, that between dialectical and eschatological dualism, which is the most important. Finally, in relation to the actual conception and practice of life, it is the third opposition, that between cosmic and anticosmic dualism, that is central.

This final point enables us to recognize the specific character of Zoroastrianism in relation to the other types. As an outstanding form of cosmic dualism, Zoroastrianism is to be distinguished sharply from anticosmic Manichaeism, in spite of their similarities as both radical and eschatological. Manichaeism, which is generally Gnostic and Western in character, nevertheless shares in the radical and eschatological form of Zoroastrian dualism and suggests the conceptual and iconographic influence of the Iranian religious milieu.

The opposition of cosmic and anticosmic is less helpful for arriving at a specific characterization of Platonic and Hermetic forms of dualism. Both Plato and Plotinus strongly affirmed the beauty and order of the cosmos (something that sets Plotinus apart from the Gnostics). Nevertheless, they occasionally expressed less optimistic views. In the Laws, for example, Plato formulated an opposition between two souls of the world, one good and the other evil. Furthermore, both he and Plotinus shared the Orphic doctrine of the body as the tomb or prison of the soul and the view of life as a kind of death. In the end, it is impossible to describe the thought of either as consistently cosmic or anticosmic.

Dualism in History

Up to this point in the entry, the approach to dualism has been systematic. But the history of religions entails more than a purely phenomenological or systematic outlook. Employing a comparative-historical method raises the question of possible historical connections between different forms of religious dualism, and engages one in analyzing the historical milieus in which these phenomena arise. A historical-comparative treatment of dualism as a specific category of religious thought and experience need not revert to diffusionist explanations that presuppose a single historical origin of dualism and explain its subsequent geographical extension as a consequence of cultural diffusion and adaptation. The diverse historical forms of dualism can be better explained on the basis of parallel development, provided this approach avoids the presuppositions of evolutionism and physiological development. Yet it is not less historical in character than the diffusionist approach.

What is intended, then, is a historical typology that would explain the independent development of analogous religious phenomena such as dualism on the basis of comparable religious and historical circumstances or presuppositions. In any case, with the modern scholarship available, it would be hard to support a diffusionist explanation of the widespread presence of dualism in different cultures, times, and religions. Given the presence of forms of dualism in the archaic cultures of North America, it is clearly impossible to view all forms of dualism as having a single geographical point of origin, such as Iran. Here it is best to focus only on those connections that can be historically documented.

As was pointed out above, such connections can be found between some forms of Manichaean and Zoroastrian dualism. Similar comparative-historical conclusions could be drawn concerning the relationship between the dualistic conceptions found in eastern European folklore and in such western Asian sects as the Yazīdīs. One could possibly speak of a certain dualistic propensity in the ethnological background of these areas without losing sight of the opposite possibilitynamely, the direct influence of the great dualistic religions and the active dualistic sectarian movements such as the Bogomils. Similar possibilities exist in the case of the well-established dualistic mythologies of the Inner Asian Turks and Tatars (see, for example, the dark figure of Erlik, an antigod particularly connected with the realm of death). These may have been influenced not only by Iran but also by the dualistic folklore traditions of eastern Europe.

The earth-diver cosmogonies and dualism

Even in Iran, there have occasionally been peripheral formulations of dualism that cannot be explained on the basis of Zoroastrian ideology alone. The characterization of Ahriman as a kind of demiurge-trickster, for instance, is not unlike the characterization of similar figures in the nonliterate cultures of Asia. Ultimately one is led to question the origins of Zoroastrian dualism itself: to what extent was it influenced or predetermined by the figure of Zarathushtra? To what extent, and in which ways, was Iranian religion characterized by dualistic tendencies prior to Zarathushtra? And, what was more important for this: those elements that were paralleled in the Vedic literature of India (such as the parallel figures of Indra-Vrtrahan and Verethraghna), or those that recall Inner Asian folklore?

However these questions are to be answered, one possibility deserves special mention, namely that of what one might call a "dualistic imperialism." This may be illustrated by considering the historical fate of the so-called earth diver, the mythical theme of a bird or animal that dives into the primordial sea in order to bring up some mud for the creator, who then spreads it on the surface of the waters to create the earth. This motif is widespread, being found in Inner Asia, eastern Europe, and North America. What is interesting is that it has dualistic implications only in the Old World, which seems particularly significant because other dualistic myths are far from rare in the New World. It may mean that the originally nondualistic motif of the diver was first given a dualistic interpretation in Asia, some time after versions of it had spread to North America. The reasons for such an insistence on a dualistic interpretation of the motif in Asia can only be guessed at, but once it had taken hold, it could have modified the earlier situation and led to the appropriation of themes previously extraneous to dualism. Thus one would have a kind of "dualistic imperialism" whose more peculiar manifestations would have appeared in Iran or at its borders. Such a hypothesis need not have anything to do with the theory that dualism as such originated in these regions.

Whereas it is still early to conclude that the earth-diver cosmogonic scenario can be seen as the core of a widespread "Eurasian dualism," various East European, Siberian, and Central Asian earth-diver cosmogonies display dualist elements in different stages of development and combination. It would be safe to assume that both internal factors (like inherited binary cosmogonies and the divine twins mythology) and external influences (in the Eurasian cases: Christian diabology, with its inherent dualist tendencies; as well as possible Zoroastrian and Manichaean influences in the central Asian cosmogonies) conditioned the overall general movement towards dualism, as the mythic scenario came to be reinterpreted and modified, particularly in Eurasia.

Traces of the earth-diver cosmogonic lore may be found in the cosmogonies of Islamic heterodox groups such as the Alevi, the Yazīdīs, and the Ahl-i Haqq, but its dualist elements have been variously tamed. In most of the mature east European versions of the cosmogonic scenario, the two primordial beings are identified as God and Satan, and it is God who dispatches Satan to dive in the primal sea (whether in ornithomorphic form or not) upon which there follows the antagonism between the two figures. These east European dualist cosmogonic legends vary in detail, yet all of them emphasize the role of Satan as an original companion of God and a crucial vehicle for the creation of the material world.

Diffusion of dualism

It is now time to focus attention on other territories and cultures in which dualism, in forms different from those found in Inner Asia and North America, was once widespread. These territories extend from the border of the Achaemenid empire in the East to Sicily and Magna Graecia in the West. Here, Orphism and Pythagoreanismboth typical forms of dualismtook forms different from those found in Iran, Inner Asia, and North America. Rather than a supreme being opposed by a devilish or trickster-like demiurge, we find a form of anthropological dualism that is at the same time ontological and cosmological. The doctrines of soma-sema (body-tomb), metensomatosis, and purification from "previous sin" characterize this mysteriosophical, anthropological dualism, which is rooted in a metaphysics that opposes oneness and multiplicity in the context of an eternally recurring cycle. The term "mysteriosophical" is intended to refer to the tendency of Orphism and Pythagoreanism, and later Plato and Platonism, to adapt elements from the theology of the mystery religions to their own philosophies. The mystery religions themselves seem to have been free from the antisomatic attitudes typical to Orphism and Pythagoreanism.

The anticosmic and antisomatic doctrines of Greek mysteriosophy are comparable in some respects to the monistic-dualistic speculation found in the Indian Upaniads, some of which were roughly contemporary with the mysteriosophic currents of the West. Greek mysteriosophy no doubt contributed to the development of similar trends in the West for example, in the form of Gnostic, Hermetic, Neoplatonic, and Neo-Pythagorean dualism, and in Gnostic antisomatism, which connected death with eros and genesis (birth) with phthora (corruption, death). Although Gnosticism, and in particular Christian Gnosticism, was undoubtedly heir to the eschatological setting of non-Gnostic Christianity, these objective historical and phenomenological connections with pagan mysteriosophy should not be overlooked.

Also not to be overlooked is the question of the influence of North Asian, northeast European, and Balkan forms of animism and shamanism on the development of dualism in the Mediterranean area, as well as in Iran and Central Asia. The problem of the relation between such non-Greek forms of animism and shamanism and some of the "irrational" aspects of Archaic and Classical Greek culture is well known. Although the issue is certainly of primary importance, it should not be forgotten that important differences separate the metensomatosis and asceticism of Orphism and Pythagoreanism from the animistic creeds and practices of northeast European shamanistic cultures. In particular, the ethical and ontological motivations of the Greek mysteriosophic traditions are conspicuously absent in such cultures. The same is true of those Balkan personages, such as Zalmoxis, who are connected in Thrace with practices and beliefs of "immortalization" that are different from the Orphic conception of death and reincarnation in the context of ethical and ontological purification. Nevertheless, these so-called barbarian elements may form an essential part of the history of European dualism.

The "Pythagorean" abstention from meat was also attributed to Zalmoxis. Moreover, for the celibate sect of the Ktistai, and also the pagan sect of the Pious Ones (Eusebeis) of Balkan antiquity, abstaining from meat (Strabo, Geographia may recall some corresponding aspects of the medieval Balkan sect of the Bogomils, founded by a priest named Bogomil ("he who prays to God," or perhaps "he who loves God"). The dualistic folklore of the Balkans and eastern Europe, as well as the more or less dualistic apocrypha popular there, are also a part of this history. These oral and literary instances are particularly interesting in that they may show the influence of Gnostic motifs drawn from literary texts and oral legends originating in the East. Generally speaking, one can say that "Oriental" dualismderived from both literary and oral traditions and characterized by the opposition of a creator and an inferior demiurge (the lower god of Gnosticism, or the demiurge-trickster of ethnology and folklore)was influential in those Balkan and eastern European regions where dualistic trends were already in evidence. The di-theism of those imported mythologies may have been prepared for by indigenous conceptions of a duality of gods, such as the white god and the black god mentioned by a medievaland not authoritativetext: Helmold's Chronica Slavorum (twelfth century).

Dualist Denominations and Tendencies in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

The ostensibly contradictory views of early Zoroastrianism as "dualist monotheism" or "monotheistic dualism" (and the related debates on whether Zurvanism should be considered a "heretical" monistic deviation from dualist Zoroastrianism or just its triadic version) have been continuously challenged and redefined against the background of the monotheistic worlds of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Concerning early Zoroastrianism, the main debates have been focused on whether Angra Mainyu can be regarded as proceeding from Ahura Mazda or as a likewise uncreated being who is directly opposed to him, as well as on whether Angra Mainyu should be considered evil by nature or by choice.

Dualism in Judaism

To a great extent these debates have been provoked by the various chronological problems posed by nature of the primary sources for Zoroastrianism and the difficulties in separating the early stages of Zoroastrian thought from later sources. These problems have also affected the study of the religious interchange between ancient Iran and Israel and the emergence of dualist tendencies in postexilic Judaism. Previously focused on the development of Jewish angelology and demonology and the emerging notion of Satan as the personification of cosmic evil opposed to God and humanity in the intertestamental period, the arguments for Zoroastrian influence on postexilic Jewish thought received a fresh impetus with the discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls, among which documents like the Community Rule and the War Rule offered explicit dualist proclivities and terminology. This was coupled with the related expansion of research into the intertestamental Enochic apocalyptic tradition with its generative, novel, and dualistically-oriented notion of the superhuman origin of evil caused by the sinful descent of the fallen angelsthe Watchersin the early section of the apocalyptic corpus of 1 Enoch, The Book of the Watchers.

Although Qumran cosmic dualism ("cosmic" as in Charlesworth's scheme above) remains a dualism under one God who determines the dualistic structure, a number of studies have sought a Zoroastrian or Zurvanite pedigree for the Qumran teachings of the "Two Ways" and the "Two Spirits" and the temporal and eschatological dimension of the "war dualism" in the War Rule. As Qumran thought presents varied dualist traits with a complex evolution, such arguments for a certain outside dualist impact on them need to be balanced by a proper analysis of their links with late sapiential theology (with its "embryonic" ethical dualism and the related dual classification of the creation into pairs of opposites and antitheses) and the cosmic antagonism of opposed supernatural powers in intertestamental pseudepigrapha such as the Aramaic Testament of Levi, The Book of Jubilees, and the Enochic apocalyptic works.

Rabbinic Judaism

Following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 ce, rabbinic Judaism tended to counterbalance the dualist trends developed in apocalyptic Judaism, although it retained elements of the impact of Platonic soul-body dualism on Jewish thought in the Hellenistic period (on figures such as Philo). Rabbinic texts from the second century ce warn against the heresy of the "Two Heavenly Powers" linked to speculations about the exalted status of an angel or vice-regent of the Lord that may have been related to nascent Gnostic thought.

In rabbinic Judaism the figure of Satan and the myth of the downfall of the angels lost much of the intensity and the dualist traits that had marked some earlier Jewish apocalyptic trends, although the aggadic tradition preserved and elaborated various stories about Satan (Samael) and the evil spirits. Otherwise, in rabbinic theory Satan was linked to the evil inclination within man (yetser ha-ra ) which was opposed to the good inclination (yetser ha-tov ). Dualistic tendencies were retained, however, in the Jewish Merkabah (Divine Chariot) and later Hekhalot traditions, especially in the speculations surrounding the status and functions of the highest of the archangels and God's vice-regent, Metatron, as the "Lesser Yahweh."

More explicit dualist tendencies reappear in Judaism from the twelfth century onwards in early Qabbalistic traditions (along with other parallels to Gnostic notions from late antiquity which have not been historically explained), particularly those concerned with the problem of evil and positing the existence of another, parallel world of a sitra' ahra, waging a constant war with the "side of holiness"(in contrast with the non- and often antidualist theodicy in contemporary Jewish philsosophy). These dualist tendencies were magnified in the later Lurianic Qabbalah of Isaac Luria (15341572), with the elaboration of its fundamental doctrines of the divine tsimtsum (contraction), the breakup of the spiritual vessels and the discharge of the demonic kelippot (shells) in creation.

Dualism in early early Christianity and gnosticism

In early Christianity some of the concepts of Satan and his opposition to God and mandeveloped in postexilic and particularly apocalyptic Judaismwere accepted with all their ambiguities and potential for radical new developments. Early Christianity retained a tension between its monotheistic theology and the dualist implications of its evolving diabology and the evident spirit-flesh opposition in the New Testament. The inherited heavenly antagonism between Michael and Satan was reflected in Revelation; there are definite dualist traits in John and Paul where the Devil is the "god of this world," with his imperium embracing not only the evil spirits and wicked men but also "this age" (Aion ) and this world (kosmos )he was the "Prince of this World" and "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (1 Jn 5:19), although his prevalence in the world has been broken with Christ's advent. In early Christian thought, the Devil was the personification and source of evil and deathan angelwho has fallen, through his pride and free will, to lead the hosts of evil against the "Kingdom of God" and Christ. At this time the Enochic story of the downfall of the angels was still popular and known among the Church Fathers. As well, the Church Fathers also had to defend the orthodox Christian tenets of evil as privation of good and Godness against the more radical, dualist solutions of the origin of evil advanced in the contemporary Gnostic schools of the second and third centuries.

Despite the evident dualism of spirit and flesh in early Christianity, the world was viewed as a creation of the benevolent God-Creator and was not evil by nature. Conversely, the multifarious Gnostic schools did share, on the whole, an anti-cosmic dualismthe material world was negated as an imperfect and evil creation of an inferior demiurgic, or clearly "Satanic" power, and was opposed to the supernal spiritual world of the true but remote and unknown God. The Gnostic schools drew widely on the syncretistic heritage of antiquity to embellish their basic dualist myths and concepts related to the creation of the world by the demiurge, the fall of the soul, the missions of the redeemer and revealer of the gnosis, and finally the release and ascent of the soul to its spiritual abode. Gnosticism shared its preoccupation with the divine knowledge, gnosis, the soul's search for its divine origin, and its final salvation with another religio-spiritualist current whose teachings crystallized in the early Christian era, Hermeticism, which also presented some dualist traitsyet there were also important differences between the two movements in the spheres of theology, cosmology, and anthropology.

Gnostic groups, moreover, adopted and further elaborated esoteric traditions current in early Christianity and Jewish Christianity that were believed to have been transmitted both orally in apostolic times and through apocryphal (understood as "hidden") texts. Whereas the classification and provenance of the various Gnostic schools (Christian and non-Christian Gnosticism, for example) continues to provoke debates and conflicting theories, a general distinction between Gnostic radical dualism of the two primal principles (as in Manichaeism) and Gnostic moderate dualism (Valentinianism and Sethian Gnosticism) has found a wider acceptance. Gnostic groupsand particularly Manichaeismretained the use of pseudepigraphy, and the Manichaeans continued to resort to the composition and compilation of new apocrypha in their later history.

After the collapse of the Manichaean westward mission, and amid the intense persecution during the early reign of Justinian the Great (52765), Manichaeism remained mostly confined to Asia, where it survived as a separate religion until the end of the Middle Ages. Following the widespread dissemination of manifold Gnostic and dualist teachings during late antiquity, traces and actual transmitters of Gnostic and dualist traditions in the early Middle Ages become increasingly difficult to discern and identify. In the Near East, such teachings enjoyed an uninterrupted historical maintenance within the still-existing small religious group of the Mandaeans in southern Iraq and Khuzistan in Iran, rightly considered the last survivors of the great Gnostic movements of late antiquity.

Medieval forms of Christian dualism

In the early Middle Ages, traces and elements of Gnostic and dualist teachings in varying degrees of intensity were also preserved in various apocryphal works from late antiquity that, despite being banned, were preserved, maintaining their circulation mainly in the eastern Christian world in heterodox, sectarian, or simply learned circles. Under the right circumstances these Gnostic or dualist residues in apocryphal works could effect a revival of related attitudes through simple borrowing of their themes, or through creative interpretation spreading from these works to the canonical scriptures, complete with all of the possibilities for the formulation of new heterodoxies and heresies. A number of such apocryphal texts were preserved in Byzantium, where the process of the creation of new apocrypha, like apocalyptic revelations about the course of world history, continued throughout the early Middle Ages.

The first important early medieval version of Christian dualism was formulated by the Paulicians who emerged in the complicated world of early medieval Armenia. Whereas Paulician radical dualism has been often traced in the past to Manichaean, Gnostic, or Marcionite influences, it seems more plausible that Paulicianism developed its dualist version of Christianity through a spiritualist and allegorical reading of the New Testament, its dualist element being influenced directly or indirectly by the various dualist residues still active in the religious scene of late antique and early medieval Armenia, ranging from Zoroastrian to Gnostic survivals. The Paulicians entered Byzantium around the mid-seventh century, and in 759 entered the Balkans for the first time to establish a long-lasting presence in Thrace, continuing to play a frequently important role in the development of Balkan-Byzantineand consequently medieval European Christiandualism.

The history of medieval Christian dualism entered a new, crucial stage with the emergence of the Bogomil heresy in the first half of the tenth century in the newly Christianized Bulgarian kingdom. The origins of Bogomilism are surrounded by many riddles, but it is now apparent that whereas the antisomatic and anticosmic aspects of Bogomil dualism should be explored in the wider context of Byzantine heresy, heterodoxy, and alternative demonology, there are strong parallels between the main Bogomil theological formulas and diabology, on the one hand, and apocryphal traditions, preserved in a number of apocryphal works, and which were translated and disseminated in the Slavonic Orthodox world around the time of the formation and spread of Bogomilism, on the other.

Given this wide-ranging translation and diffusion of apocryphal texts in the initial phases of the development of Slavo-Byzantine culture, it seems not so surprising that the formulation of the Bogomil new version of Christian dualism was strongly stimulated by the influx of teachings, themes, and notions rediscovered in the newly translated apocryphal works from late antiquity. The expansion of the Bogomil mission, both eastwards in Byzantium, and westwards, stimulated the diffusion of the Christian dualist tradition in western Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and reached its culmination in the growth of an organized Cathar movement in northern Italy and southern France (contemporary Catholic accounts often refer to the crucial impact of Balkan-Byzantine dualism on its formation). Modern theories may differ in their estimation of the chronology and the scale of Bogomil influence on original Catharism, but invariably confirm its vital role in providing a new dualist framework for western heretical and heterodox currents. Bogomil and Cathar dualism had a strongly anticosmic, antisomatic, and eschatological character.

Original Bogomil dualism had a monarchian nature that clearly contrasted with the mature Paulician radical dualist dogma of the two principles: the evil creator of this world and the good Lord of the world to come. By the last three decades of the twelfth century, however, both Bogomil and Cathar dualism divided into two strands, a monarchian and a radical trend, which advanced different versions of Christian dualism. Generally, according to the first, monarchian strand, there was one sublime God, Father of All, yet the material universe was created and ruled by his rebellious firstborn, Satan or Lucifer, the Lord of the Old Testament. The one sublime God's younger son, Jesus Christ, was sent in a semblance of the human body to "save that was lost" during the satanic reign through his baptism in the Holy Spirit and with fire (Lk. 19:10). Generally, the radical branch of Bogomil and Cathar dualism taught that Satan-Lucifer was a son of an eternal evil god whose attack on the heaven of the good God caused the fall of the angels, and that the mission of Christ was to redeem angelic souls from their imprisonment in human bodies.

Both versions of Bogomil-Cathar dualism present a number of differences from the variants of theological dualism and related teachings professed by earlier antiecclesiastical and heretical movements such as Manichaeism and Paulicianism. To a considerable extent, this is due to the Bogomil-Cathar indebtedness to earlier apocryphal and apocalyptic traditions and their predilection for the elaboration of new vivid mythic stories in support of their dualist doctrines. This practice presents a telling parallel to Gnosticism, in which the creation of Gnostic secret dualist myths was, as pointed out by Guy Stroumsa in his Hidden Wisdom (1996), a crucial part of the process of a "self-conscious re-mythologization" by the Gnostic theorists. In both cases this re-mythologization and creation of a dualist mythology was accomplished through a determined inverse exegesis of the normative scriptures to produce alternative and striking accounts of cosmogony, fall, and salvation of the soul. Whereas the campaigns of the Inquisition, the rise of spiritual currents in Catholicism, and the work of the Mendicant orders all effected the eclipse of Catharism in the early thirteenth century, reports of Bogomil activities in the eastern Christendom discontinue only in the early fifteenth century, amid the spread of new syncretistic and sectarian movements in the early Ottoman era.

Dualism in Islam

Although the diabology and cosmology of the Qurʾān and early normative Islam was notably strictly monotheistic and antidualistic, veiled or explicit dualist tendencies eventually appeared in Islamic mystical and ghulāt (heterodox) traditions, as Islam expanded and encountered a multitude of other religious traditions. Still, one needs to distinguish the definite dualistic traits in such traditions from the heightened use of dualities and polarities, as in the system of ninth-century mystic al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi or the use of Zoroastrian themes and imagery in al-Sohrawardi's thought; one needs also to be extremely cautious regarding the antidualist polemical clichés of Sunnī heresiologists who could attack the Ismāʿīlīs as followers of dualist Manichaeism. In this context the appearance of gnostic-like and dualist traits in the syncretistic and revelatory Umm al-kitāb and in the pre-Fatimid early Ismāʿīlī cosmological tract of Abū ʿĪsā al-Murshid deserve greater attention and study which can indicate whether their revival of dualist and gnostic tendencies is the outcome of an assimilation of Neoplatonic and related traditions from late antiquity or novel religious syntheses in Islamic garb. Likewise, the dualist tendencies in the cosmology and diabology of Islamic heterodox communities such as the Alevi, the Yazīdīs and the Ahl-i Haq need to be considered in the context of their conglomerate-like belief systems in which the later and locally-adopted elements need to be differentiated from the more archaic components of their beliefs which include versions of the ancient and dualistically-oriented earth diver cosmogonic scenario.

In the case of the Yazīdīs and the Ahl-i Haqq the archaic layer of beliefs includes pre-Islamic Iranian traditions, both Zoroastrian and pre-Zoroastrian. In the case of the Alevi, any search or claims for influences of the Balkan and Anatolian Christian dualist sectarians on their teachings and practices of Alevism should consider first the arguments for traces of a Manichaean impact on Alevi traditions, again arguably traceable to the pre-Islamic exposure of some Central Asian Turkic groups, most famously the Uighurs, to Manichaeism. And when one considers the greater problem of dualism vis-à-vis Islam, one should take into account that when even these Islamic heterodox traditions have inherited a cosmogonic tradition with strong dualist leanings like the earth-diver one, they generally tended to minimise its dualist potential (without neutralising it altogether) in contrast to the hardening of the dualist elements in the Christian heterodox and popular cosmogonies based on the same cosmogonic scenario.

Plutarch's View

Some of the more important historical and systematic forms of dualism as found in different religious contexts have been considered in this entry. Consider briefly, now, a type of dualistic thought that, far from being limited to the expression of a particular creed, was a key to the interpretation of different religious systems and of religion in itself. This type of dualistic thought is exemplified in Plutarch's treatise Isis and Osiris. The aim of the philosopher and theologian of Chaeronea is to show, on the basis of Platonic or Middle Platonic hermeneutics, that dualism, as the idea of two opposing forces manifesting themselves in the universe, is a notion common to most of the religions of his time.

In the course of developing his thesis, Plutarch provides precious information concerning the Persian, Mesopotamian, and especially the Egyptian religions. The information he gives concerning the Osiris-Seth opposition in Egypt is the sole ancient literary document containing a complete form of that basic myth. His interpretation of the different characters of the myth and of the different forms of relationship that link them together is clearly Platonic and heavily speculative. He goes so far as to introduce different kinds of opposition: a hostile opposition between Osiris/Horus and Seth, and an opposition of cooperation and transcendence between Osiris and Isis, a married couple. Osiris is interpreted as the ideal world, or the transcendent model that informs matter; that is, Isis, the female, is the nourishing agency of all beings in the visible world.

It is important to note that Plutarchian hermeneutics synthesizes these two different kinds of dualistic opposition into a unitary structure. As a result, in Plutarch's interpretation, Isis does not totally eliminate the evil figure of Seth from the world after the victory of Horus over him. Despite his inborn malignity, Seth is clearly conceived of as a presence necessary for the equilibrium of the world. Thus, despite his acceptance of the Platonic notion expressed in Theaetetus 176ab that evil is intrinsic to the lower world, Plutarch's speculative Platonism actually goes beyond Plato. Plato had never managed to unite the two different forms of dualism found in the Laws (the two opposing souls of the universe, one good and one bad) and in the Timaeus (the invisible and the visible as necessary constituents of being).

Would it be too much to suspect that Plutarch, though aided by the use of Platonic speculation, did not himself purely invent this complex, yet unitary, "Egyptian" structure? Egyptian documentation lends support to the idea that Seth, god of deficiency, sterility, and loneliness, god of the desert and of hostile countries, was explicitly acknowledged as a constituent element of the Egyptian pantheon and universe. He has, for instance, a positive role in the daily struggle against the serpent Apophis, the enemy of the sun. That is not all. Recent studies of the Egyptian Seth have demonstrated that he possesses traits characteristic of a trickster. Moreover, the comparative study of the Egyptian mythology of Seth and that of Yurugu (Ogo) among the Dogon of West Africa has shown considerable structural affinities between the two. In the Dogon myths, Yurugu is a sterile, lonely, adversarial character; yet at the same time he is an indispensable element in the universe. He is furthermore a trickster; he is "pale fox" (the name refers to Vulpes pallida, an African fox).

It is remarkable, having made peregrinations among the many forms of dualism, to come across something reminiscent of that pedantic, aggressive, unhappy, and inescapable dualistic figure, the demiurge-trickster (Raven, Coyote, and others) typical of a number of preliterate mythologies. Could this mean that, far from being a protest against monotheism, a protest intended as an option in favor of the innocence of God over his omnipotence, dualism may be interpreted (in at least some of its forms) as rather an insufficient actualization of God's omnipotence? And that the most extreme and irreconcilable form of dualismnamely dialectical dualism, both in its quietistic and combative formswas fated to present monotheism with its most radical challenge? This can be seen also in the dialectics of Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud, all of which are samples of "dualism" in the modern world.

See Also

Demiurge; Gnosticism; Manichaeism; Orpheus; Plato; Tricksters; Twins; Zoroastrianism.


Armstrong, A. H., "Dualism: Platonic, Gnostic, and Christian." In Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, edited by Richard T. Wallis, pp. 3355. New York, 1992.

Bayle, Pierre. Dictionnaire historique et critique. 2d ed. Paris, 1702.

Besch, Bernt. Der Dualismus in der Kermsehriften von Pumren. Rome, 1996.

Bianchi, Ugo. Il dualismo religioso: Saggio storico ed etnologico. Rome, 1958; 2d ed., 1983. A seminal, broad exposition of the problems concerning the forms and the diffusion of dualism in the nonliterate and literate religions.

Bianchi, Ugo Selected Essays on Gnosticism, Dualism and Mysteriosophy. Leiden, 1978. Contains some of Bianchi's most important studies of religious dualism.

Bianchi, Ugo. "Tipologie stoica delle religioni e comparazione: il easo del dualismo." Annals of the Lergiu Al-George Institute 6-8 (1997-1999): pp. 7-16.

Bianchi, Ugo, ed. Le origini dello gnosticismo. Leiden, 1967.

Boyce, Mary. A History of Zoroastrianism. 3 vols. (vol. 2 with F. Grenet). Leiden, Netherlands, 19751991. A thorough, vigorous and often polemical survey of the Zoroastrian history from its origins to Late Antiquity with important discussions of Zoroastrian encounters and interchange with other religious traditions.

Casadio, Giovanni and Guy G. Stroumsa. "Dualismus." In Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, edited by Hans Dieter Betz et al., vol. 2, pp. 10041006. Tübingen, Germany, 1999.

Charlesworth, James H. "A Critical Comparison of the Dualism in 1QS 3:134.26 and the Dualism' contained in the Gospel of John." New Testament Studies 15 (1968/69): 389418.

Coulianu, Ioan Petru. The Tree of Gnosis: Gnostic Mythology from Early Christianity to Modern Nihilism. San Francisco, 1992. Coulianu's survey of the transmission and repeated resurrection of Gnostic religiosity and spirituality from antiquity through the Middle Ages to the modern period frequently challenges accepted notions about the nature and varieties of Gnostic (and Neo-Gnostic) dualism.

Dähnhardt, Oscar. Natursagen, Eine Sammlung Naturdeutender Sagen, Märchen, Fabeln und Legende 1: Sagen zum Alten Testament. Leipzig and Berlin, 1907. Contains valuable material related to popular East European and Asian cosmogonies with strong dualist elements, particularly the so-called earth-diver cosmogonic lore.

Duchesne-Guillemin, Jacques. The Western Response to Zoroaster. Oxford, 1958.

Duchesne-Guillemin, Jacques. La religion de l'Iran ancien. Paris, 1962. A comparative perspective on Iranian dualism.

Duhaime, J. "Dualist Reworking in the Scrolls from Qumran." Catholic Biblical Quarterly 49 (1987): 3256.

Durkheim Emile and Marcel Mauss. "De quelques formes primitives de classification."Année sociologique 6 (1903):172. The paradigmatic study of the sociological approach to the phenomena of duality, dual social organization and dual symbolic classification.

Duvernoy, Jean Le Catharisme I: La Religion des Cathares. Toulouse, France, 1976.

Eliade, Mircea. "Prolegomenon to Religious Dualism." In The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion. Chicago, 1969. This essay challenges some of the prevalent sociological and anthropological approaches to dualism to propose a comparative analysis of the phenomenon in literate and nonliterate cultures using the hermeneutic approach of the history of religions.

Eliade, Mircea. De Zalmoxis à Gengis-Khan. Paris, 1970. Chapter 3 contains an important comparative study of the so-called "earth-diver" cosmogonies a number of which present marked dualist features.

Eucken, Rudolf. "Dualism." In Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Hastings, vol. 5. pp. 99101. Edinburgh, 1912.

Fontaine, P. F. M. The Light and the Dark: A Cultural History of Dualism. 18 vols. Amsterdam, 19862003. Fontaine bases his typology on Bianchi's scheme but uses a much broader definition of the term "dualism" (unsolvable or unbridgeable opposition between concepts, principles or groups of people) and applies it to a variety of religious, culural, political, and social phenomena in antiquity and the Middle Ages such as dualism in ancient Greek social and political history, Roman "imperialistic dualism," interior politics and social life, Byzantine hooliganism, medieval imperialism, etc.a commendable effort but with a neglible use of the available anthropological and sociological work and theory on dual symbolic classification and dual social organization.

Frey, Jörg. "Different Patterns of Dualistic Thought in the Qumran Library: Reflections on their Background and History." In Legal Texts and Legal Issues: Proceedings of the Second Meeting of the International Organization for Qumran Studies, Cambridge, 1995, Published in Honour of J. M. Baumgarten, edited by M. Berstein et al., pp. 275337. Leiden, 1997.

Gamie, J. G. "Spatial and Ethical Dualism in Jewish Wisdom and Apocalyptic Literature." Journal of Biblical Literature 93 (1974): 35685.

Granet, Marcel. La Pensée chinoise. Paris, 1950. Incorporates analysis of the dual classification by ying and yang in Chinese thought.

Griaule, Marcel, and Germaine Dieterlen. Le renard pâle, vol. 1. Paris, 1965.

Halm, H. Die islamische Gnosis. Die extreme Schia und die Alawiten. Zurich, 1982.

Hamilton, Janet, and Bernard Hamilton eds. Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine world c. 650c.1450, translations of Old Slavonic texts by Yuri Stoyanov. Manchester, U.K., 1998.

Hyde, Thomas. Historia religionis veterum Persarum eorumque Magorum. Oxford, 1700.

Insler, S., trans. The Gathas of Zarathustra. Leiden and Téhéran, 1975.

Ivanov, V. V., and V. N. Toporov. Slavianskie iazykovye modeliruiushchie semioticheskie sistemy. Moscow, 1965.

Ivanov, V. V. Issledovaniia v oblasti slavianskikh drevnostei. Moscow, 1974. One of the major and most representative works of the Russian scholarship investigating duality and dual symbolic classification, applying often an innovative methodology.

Ivanow, W. The Truth-Worshippers of Kurdistan: Ahl-i Haqq texts. Leiden, Netherlands, 1953.

Jonas, Hans. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and Beginnings of Christianity. Boston, 1958; 2d ed., rev.& enl. 1963. Jonas's seminal study of the nature and types of Gnostic dualism, defined as "anticosmic and eschatological in character; on the basis of the specific dualist features of the Gnostic schools Jonas distinguished between Syrian-Egyptian and Iranian types of Gnosticism."

Kehl-Bodrogi, K. Die Kizilbaş/Aleviten: Untersuchungen über eine esoterische Glaubensgemeinschaft in Anatolien. 1988.

Kehl-Bodrogi, K. (ed.) Syncretistic Religious Communities in the Near East. Leiden, Netherlands, 1997.

Kreyenbroek, P. Yezidism: Its Background, Observances and Textual Tradition. Lewiston, N.Y., 1995.

Lambert, Malcolm. The Cathars. Oxford and Malden, Mass., 1998.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. Le Structures élémentaires de la parenté. Paris, 1949.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. Anthropologie structurale. Paris, 1958.

Maybury-Lewis, David, and Uri Almagor, eds. The Attraction of Opposites: Thought and Society in the Dualistic Mode. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1989. The volume contains important contributions to the study of dual symbolic classification, offering some significant reassessments of earlier approaches to and interpretations of the phenomenon.

Mélikoff, I. Sur le traces du soufisme turc. Recherches sur l'Islam populaire en Anatolie. Istanbul, 1992.

Moosa, M. Extremist Shiites: The Ghulat Sects. Syracuse, N.Y., 1987.

Needham, Rodney. Symbolic Classification. Santa Monica, Calif., 1979. This book demonstrates Needham's influential approach to the phenomena of duality and dual symbolic classification.

Needham, Rodney, ed. Right and Left: Essays on Dual Symbolic Classification. London, 1973

Numazawa, Franz Kiichi. Die Weltanfänge in der japanischen Mythologie. Fribourg, 1946. A comparative analysis of the Chinese yin-yang ideology.

Pagels, Elaine. The Origins of Satan. New York, 1995. An exploration of the legacy of Jewish apocalyptic satanology and vision of the cosmic struggle, involving the split of society into two opposing forces, in the early Christian tradition, focusing mainly on the social implications of the figure of Satan.

Pétrement, Simone. Le dualisme dans l'histoire de la philosophie et des religion. Paris, 1946.

Pétrement, Simone. Le dualisme chez Platon, les gnostiques et les manichéens. Paris, 1947. Pétrement's approach to the history and phenomenology of religious dualism differs somewhat from that of Bianchi and Eliade and she furnishes further her own version of dualist typology

Pétrement, Simone. Le Dieu separé. Paris. 1984. Pétrement endeavours to redefine Gnostic theology as not dualistic in a strict sense but a rigorous accentuation of transcendence indebted to dualist tendencies in John and Paul.

Reitzenstein, Richard Die Vorgeschichte der chtistlichen Taufe. Leipzig and Berlin, 1929.

Rottenwöhrer, Gerhard, Der Katharismus, 4 vols., Bad Honnef, Germany, 19821993.

Schmidt, Wilhelm. Der Ursprung der Gottesidee. Vols. 912. Münster, Germany, 19481955. Comprises important East European and Asian popular cosmogonic traditions of the dualist-oriented earth-diver versions.

Shaked, Shaul. Dualism in Transformation: Varieties of Religion in Sasanian Iran. London, 1994. A lucid survey of the transformations of Zoroastrian dualism in Sasanian Iran, making a full and often pioneering use of the extant sources.

Stein, Ludwig. Dualismus oder Monismus. Eine Untersuchung über die doppelte Wahrheit. Berlin, 1909. Stein argues that monism and dualism are intimately related not in terms of opposition but as a contrasted pair of notions.

Stoyanov, Yuri. The Other God. Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy. New York and London, 2000. An up-to-date, broad survey of dualist religions and currents from the ancient Middle East to medieval Europe, with a particular focus on medieval Christian dualist heresies.

Strabo. The Geography of Strabo, edited by H. J. Jones. London, 8 vols., 19171932.

Stroumsa, Guy. G. Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism. Leiden, 1996.

Weber, Max. Soziologie, weltgeschichtliche Analysen, Politik, edited by Johannes Winckelmann. Stuttgart, Germany, 1956.

Widengren, Geo. "Der Iranische Hintergrund der Gnosis." Zeitschrift für Religions und Geistesgeschichte 4 (1952): 97114.

Widengren, Geo, A. Hultgård, and M. Philonenko. Apocalyptique iranienne et dualisme Qoumrânien. Paris, 1995.

Wolffe, Christian. Psychologia rationalis. Frankfurt, Germany, 1734.

Zaehner, Robert C. Zurvan: A Zoroastrian Dilemma. Oxford, 1955.

Zolotarev, A. Dual'naia organizatsiia pervobytnykh narodov i prozhozhdenie dualisticheskikh kosmogonii. Moscow, 1964 (written 1941). One of the most thorough and well-researched works on the interrelations between dual social organization and the related religious and mythological/cosmological traditions in a number of cultures.

Ugo Bianchi (1987)

Yuri Stoyanov (2005)


views updated May 18 2018


Dualism is a doctrine positing two equally powerful and antagonistic metaphysical principles, which are constitutive of the world and must explain our experience of the world. They are often conceived as dichotomies, such as good and evil, light and darkness, attraction and repulsion, or love and strife.

In religion, perhaps the most important early doctrine was Zoroastrianism (Persia, today's Iran, sixth century b.c.e.). Zoroaster (c. 628c. 551 b.c.e.) himself is thought to have only authored the Gathas, the earliest part of the Avesta, the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. In Zoroastrianism, the world is the outcome of the struggle between Ormuzd, the author of good, and Ahriman, the principle of darkness and evil. For Zoroaster, the divinities of the Persian pantheon were servants of Ahriman. Man is a creation of Ormuzd, who created him to be free in his actions, and so open to the influences of evil. Man will be rewarded or punished in the afterlife for his choices. Ultimately, a final battle will be won by Ormuzd against evil.

Manes (Mani; 216276 or 277 c.e.) developed a form of Gnosticism, subsequently called Manichaeism, which sought to fuse elements from Christianity with the dualism of Zoroastrianism. Manichaeism spread east as far as northern India and western China and west as far as France and Spain. In Manes's system, the Father of Light and his aeons, the good, are opposed by the King of Darkness, who tried to invade the former's kingdom. From this strife both the world and humans were born. Humans have seeds of light in their soul, and Jesus was sent to bring the knowledge necessary to free the light from darkness. Ultimately, darkness will be conquered. Although Manichaeism sought to include Christianity, or because it did, it was actively fought by the Christian establishment, especially St. Augustine of Hippo (354430), who was a Manichaean in his youth. Later Christian dualistic heresies, thought to be derived from Manichaeism, include the Paulicians (Armenia, Albania, seventheighth century), the Bogomils (Bulgaria, tenth century) and the Cathars (Albigensians; southern France, twelfth and thirteenth centuries).

The Sankhya school is the most consistent example of Indian dualism. Founded by the legendary Kapila around the seventh century b.c.e., its earliest known text is Isvarakrsna's Samkhya-karikas (Stanzas of Samkhya, presumably written in the third century c.e.). The Samkhya school proffered a dualism of matter (prakriti) and soul or self (purushas). The two are originally separate; however, purusha, from being pure unqualified consciousness comes close to, and identifies itself with, aspects of matter as its object. Individualized, ego-based ahankara divides itself into the five senses, thus immersing purusha in the world of matter. Right knowledge consists of the ability of soul to rise above the ego and individuation and regain its distinction from matter. Samkhya ideas are mentioned in the earlier Mahabharata (one of the most famous Sanskrit texts, composed in a number of years; it reached its present version by 400 c.e.).

Earlier forms of dualism can be traced in ancient Egyptian religion, with the contest between Seth, disorder and sterility, and Osiris, fertility and life, that manifests itself in a cycle of murder and resurrection. Forms of dualism can be found in mythologies around the world, such as Native American myths (Chippewa, Navajo, Blackfeet), or Australian tribes. In such mythologies, ambivalent figures (such as the Native American coyote myths, the Bamapana of the Australian Murnging tribe, and the Melanesian spider-god Marawa) can be present such as a demiurge or "trickster," who can either cooperate or rival the main deity and is often conceived as independent of him.

Metaphysical dualism is a philosophical system positing two basic nonreducible substances, typically matter (or body) and spirit (or soul). Among the early Greeks, (the pre-Socratics) Anaximander (610c. 647 b.c.e.) and, later, Heracleitus (c. 540c. 480 b.c.e.), Empedocles (c. 490c. 430 b.c.e.), and Anaxagoras (c. 500c. 428 b.c.e.) all held doctrines of opposed natural substances, where the interplay of opposites is part of the developed world. Pythagoreanism, believed to have been founded by Pythagoras of Samos (c. 580c. 500 b.c.e.), focused on opposing dyads such as one/two, male/female, and so forth. Plato's (c. 428348 or 347 b.c.e.) metaphysics divides the world into two realms: the unchanging intelligible world of "forms" and the perceptual world of change. Human sense experience is of material things that are imperfect copies or likenesses that "participate" in the unchangeable and perfect forms (Ideas). Plato's Republic and Timeus give mythical accounts of the relationship between things and forms.

There is no true dualism in the Judeo-Christian tradition, though a subordinate metaphysical distinction is posed between God and created substances, and, derivatively, between soul and matter. God is uncreated, all-powerful, all-good, and infinite. Everything else is created and utterly dependent. Among created substances, soul or mind is not reducible to matter. Satan or the devil, while not as powerful as God, seems to have a power that God cannot control. Herein lie theological worries such as the problem of evil. This framework characterizes the Christian philosophy, especially high medieval Scholastic tradition such as St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 12241274), who attempted to reconcile Christianity with Aristotelian and neo-Platonic theories. With a very few exceptions (such as the thirteenth-century philosopher David of Dinant), dualism of created substances remained unchallenged until the revival of atomism, and the successes of the new science and mechanical philosophy in the seventeenth century (Galileo Galilei, Robert Boyle).

Most often, dualism is used to refer to Cartesian mind/body dualism. René Descartes (15961650), in his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) and Discourse on Method (1637) developed a method, based on clear and distinct ideas, that he thought proved that thinking things were distinct from extended, inert material things. The exemplar of a clear and distinct idea was his "I think, therefore I am." Descartes struggled with the problem of how matter and mind, being different substances, could causally interact Reactions to Cartesian dualism, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, stressed the incoherence of causal connections between two different kinds of substance, and took the forms of idealism (George Berkeley, 16851753) or materialism (Julien Offroy de La Mettrie, 17091751) wherein dualism was eschewed in favor or a world composed only of ideas (spirit) or matter.

During the late nineteenth century an epistemological form of dualism arose, from Descartes's influence, that distinguished knowledge of the human sciences from the natural sciences. Wilhelm Dilthey (18331911) argued for a noncausal human science that would use a method of verstehen or interpretation of particular events as distinct from the causal inquiry of the natural sciences, and Edmund Husserl (18591938) began the school of phenomenology, wherein human science was based on introspections of one's own consciousness, made while bracketing the physical world.

Challenges to Dualism

In postmodern times (after 1968), Jacques Derrida (b. 1930) developed deconstruction. Derrida believes that Western thought was centered on binary hierarchical oppositions (dualisms). Examples were male and female, mind and body, nature and culture, object and subject, and so forth. Critical analysis should expose the dualistic assumptions that are taken as "given," and show the polarity itself to be a "construct," rather than something existing independently. To Derrida and his postmodern followers must be added the challenge from feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. Interestingly the male/female polarity had been "deconstructed" well before Derrida, in Simone de Beauvoir's (19081986) The Second Sex, where she wrote, "Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absoluteshe is the Other."

See also Heresy and Apostasy ; Manichaeism ; Monism ; Other, The, European Views of .


Block, Ned, Güven Güzeldere, and Owen Flanagan, eds. The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997.

de Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex. Translated and edited by H. M. Parshley. New York: Knopf, 1953.

Guttenplan, Samuel, ed. A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.

Hamilton, Janet, and Bernard Hamilton, trans. and ann. Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine World, c. 650c. 1450: Selected Sources. Assistance with the translation of Old Slavonic texts by Yuri Stoyanov. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1998.

Lycan, William G., ed. Mind and Cognition: An Anthology. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1999.

Peter Machamer

Francesca di Poppa


views updated May 14 2018


The name given to any theory, whether general or limited, that invokes two opposed and heterogeneous principles of explanation; as such, it differs from both monism and pluralism, at least when the latter involves more than two principles. The difficulties posed by the existence of evil, moral and physical, were the earliest source of dualistic theories. In modern times, dualism is espoused most frequently in dealing with the problem of knowledge; here thought and being, mind and body, certitude and opinion seem to be dyads whose members are irreducible the one to the other. The problem of knowledge was the source of some early dualistic theories as well.

Early Theories. From earliest times it has seemed to many that there is no acceptable way in which good and evil can be reduced to the same source. And, since both good and evil are found in the universe, the universe itself is not the product of one author. The evil in question can be physical, as, for example, defective structure of plant, animal, or human body, or it can be moral, the prevalence, temporary or permanent, of man's evil tendencies. Moral evil has, through the centuries, evoked the image of the human person as a battleground, a locus of conflicting tendencies, some good, others bad. A man can recognize and approve the right course and yet, as Ovid and St. Paul poignantly observe, pursue its opposite. Whence comes moral evil? What is the explanation of defective being? Whether one thinks of the moral question as a particularization of the physical or the physical as an extrapolation from the sense of moral evil, there is historically a link between the ethical and the ontological in dualism. The universe seems the result of a struggle between Good and Evil, Light and Darkness. Such dualism is to be found in Persia, in the teaching of zoroaster (zarathushtra). In Christian times this same dualism is expressed in manichaeism.

In its beginnings in Ionia, greek philosophy sought a monistic explanation of the world. Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes may be seen as postulating a single underlying source of the multiple things of ordinary experience when they suggested, respectively, that water, the unlimited, or air is nature; yet, because they were physical philosophers and took change seriously, they held that there are many things. It is this assumption of natural philosophy that was challenged by parmenides, the most uncompromising monist of antiquity. being is, nonbeing is not. This Parmenidean assertion entails the negation of change and multiplicity, for if being is said to come to be, it must come from either being or nonbeing. It cannot come from nonbeing; and, if from being, no change has occurred. Multiplicity is canceled out by the same logic. Given two things, they can differ in either being or nothing; but being is what they have in common, and if they differ in nothing, they are the same. This monism, then, is thorough: the one, being, is not the source of any later multiplicity (see unity). But if the doctrine of Parmenides must be called monistic, the seeds of dualism were present in the poem in which the great Eleatic set down his thought. The monistic doctrine just sketched is found in that part of the poem called the way of truth; a second part, the way of opinion, speaks of the world as it appears to man, and Parmenides there gives a cosmological doctrine not unlike those of his predecessors. This bifurcation between what really and truly is, on the one hand, and what appears, on the other, was to be developed by Plato; before turning to that, however, mention must be made of Pythagoreanism. pythagoras thought of physical things as numbers; the principles of number, the odd and even, were the principles of all things. This fundamental dualism led to a list of opposites, the so-called Pythagorean categories (see Aristotle, Meta. 985b 23986b 1).

Platonic Dualism. Platonic dualism arose from Parmenides and Pythagoreanism; its motivations were at once ethical and epistemic. plato was struck by the nonempirical character of ethical ideals; for example, one need not encounter a perfect instance of justice in order to desire to be just; rather man judges some acts to be just because he recognizes in them an imitation of the idea of justice. So too, since man has never experienced perfect equality between physical things, his notion of equality cannot be derived from experience. Justice, equality, and gradually other natures come to be looked upon as ideals that phenomenal things strive to imitate. Add to this the recognition that true knowledge implies an unchanging object, an object unaffected by time, and one has two motives for Plato's assertion that above and beyond the material world where things imitate ideal natures and, being forever in flux, cannot be objects of true knowledge, there is another and better world, the world of Ideas. The Ideas are the subsistent ideals that phenomenal things imitate; they are the guarantee of true knowledge. Plato thus introduced a radical dualism. Only Ideas truly are, but the things of this world have an extenuated kind of being. Knowledge is of Ideas; phenomenal things can ground only opinion.

Aristotelian Dualism. Aristotle, Plato's pupil and colleague, thought that such arguments as Plato himself had formulated in the Parmenides were conclusive against the Ideas: the whole doctrine was a great mistake. Thus, in Aristotle's view, if there are things existing separately and apart from the material world, a better argument for their existence would have to be devised. In his famous analysis of moved movers, Aristotle proved that such movers demand a mover that is itself unmoved (see motion, first cause of). This First Mover was then seen to have other attributes that reveal His being as personal; Christians have always and rightly observed that here Aristotle had in effect proved the existence of God.

The status of matter in Aristotle's philosophy raises the question whether his worldview is monistic or dualistic. That is, is everything in the cosmos reduced to the First Mover as to its cause, or is there something in the world that enjoys existence apart from the causality of the First Mover? Aristotle held that, so far as man can know, the world has always existed; thus motion has always existed and matter as well. The First Mover is pure act; matter, what Aristotle called primary matter, is pure potency. Does one have here two irreducibly different principles of the world man knows? It is important to see that this consequence does not follow because, in seeing so, one is better able to appreciate the difference between Aristotelian and Cartesian matter.

Aristotle's analysis of physical things, that is, of things that come to be as a term of a change, led him to maintain that physical things are composed of matter and form (see matter and form). Roughly, matter is what survives a change and form is what the matter gains as the result of the change. These principles are not themselves things; that is, matter cannot exist except in material things, and form exists only in formed things. If matter exists only in material things, it is not an entity on the same level as the First Mover. A similar opposition in Aristotelian philosophy, it may be noted, is that between body and soul, particularly when one restricts the consideration to the soul whose operations are not bound up with matter (see soul, human). Matter versus form, body versus human soul, material substance versus immaterial substancethese are the undeniable dualisms in Aristotle's doctrine.

Whether everything in the cosmos can be reduced to one principle is a question whose answer must be formulated carefully. Aristotle is quite clear as to the various meanings he ascribes to the term principle. It is commonly agreed among scholars that he taught that the First Mover is the ultimate final cause of everything in the cosmos, the good toward which all things tend. Some scholars have thought they could accept this conclusion and still doubt whether, for Aristotle, the First Mover is as well the efficient cause of everything. Against this doubt it can be argued that, unless there is an efficient causality comprehensive enough to fashion everything so that its telos is the First Mover, the order of the universe would be, on Aristotelian grounds, due to pure chance. But this Aristotle explicitly denies. The sense of the Aristotelian view of the universe, then, would be that there is one principle on whom depend Earth and the heavens and everything therein. Therefore, all dualisms in Aristotle are, so to speak, regional and not universal.

Scholastic Dualism. In Christian times the most important new candidate for the title of dualism would be the contrast between nature and grace, between the natural and the supernatural. From a metaphysical point of view, however, the most important clarification of the difference between God and creature was had in the doctrine of essence and existence. The sources of this distinction can be found in the Greeks, but the document that forced subsequent discussion of it was the De hebdomadibus of boethius. Among the later scholastics who commented on this opusculum was St. thomas aquinas. "Diversum est esse et id quod est," Boethius wrote, and St. Thomas, combining this with the Aristotelian doctrine of matter and form, understood its import as follows: "In substances composed of matter and form, there is a twofold composition of act and potency, the first of the substance itself that is composed of matter and form, the second of the already constituted substance and its existence (esse ), which can also be said to be a composition resulting from what it is (quod est ) and its existence (esse ), or from 'that which is' (quod est ) and 'that whereby it is' (quo est ). Thus it is clear that the composition of act and potency is found in more things than the composition of form and matter. Form and matter divide natural substance but potency and act divide being in general" (C. gent. 2.54). Only in God is there no composition whatsoever. He is being essentially; everything else is being by participation. As Ipsum Esse Subsistens, God is the source of the essence and existence of all creatures. Thus, if all created being is divided by potency and act at least in the sense of essence and existence, the source of all created being is one, God, whose essence is His existence (see essence and existence; po tency and act).

Cartesian Dualism. The division of reality into thought and extension is already implied in the methodical doubt that characterizes the philosophy of R. des cartes. In his effort to find an indubitable starting point, Descartes agreed to set aside anything about which doubt was at all possible. Sensible things, those of which man is aware by sensation, were first set aside, since it is in principle possible to think that one is deceived concerning shape, size, colors, etc. Man may even be deceived about his own body. But if any item of knowledge that might be substituted for X in "I think that X " can be thought of as possibly false, and therefore dubitable, man cannot doubt the existence of himself as a thinking something. Having reached an indubitable truth, the cogito ergo sum, Descartes moved rapidly to the assertion of the existence of God via a modified ontological argu ment. That done, God's veracity became the guarantee of the reality of the external world. Now, while everything may have seemed to be as it was before this step, the reasoning involved left Descartes with an unbridgeable gulf between the material world (res extensa ) and mind (res cogitans ). The difficulty became most acute, perhaps, when he attempted to establish the relation between soul and body, and this because of his general view of matter as a substance, a something in its own right, rather than as an element or component of substance. The unity of the human person posed the problem of making two substances, mind and body, into one substancea problem that was destined never to be solved in Cartesian terms (see mind-body problem).

The hope of Descartes was to fashion philosophy on the model of the most rigorous science, mathematics. For something to be certain, it must be clear and distinct. As the father of modern philosophy, Descartes bequeathed this ideal of rigor, the search for a method to achieve it, and an almost skeptical attitude toward sensation to a great line of followers. One of the most important thinkers in his wake was Immanuel Kant.

Kantian Dualism. Kant's critical philosophy introduced a dualism that is fundamentally epistemological.D. hume had held that experience is insufficient ground for universal and necessary judgments such as those abounding in metaphysics. Kant agreed with this and asked whether there is a source of universality and necessity elsewhere than in experience. For him, some concepts are pure and a priori in the sense that, while formed in terms of what is experienced, they are not derived from what is experienced. Such concepts as cause, effect, and substance are pure in this sense. Experience is possible because there are forms of sensuous intuition (space and time) and of understandingsubjective grooves, as it were, to which the matter of experience must conform in order to be known by man. Things as known, phenome na, are an amalgam of subjective form and objective matter; noumena are things in themselves, as such unknowable by man. This Kantian dualism has had a great impact on the philosophy of science; there Kant's theory of the forms of intuition and of understanding as what man imposes upon an amorphous and unknowable reality seems to many to explain the preponderance of theory and hypotheses in modern physical science.

Critique. Although it is possible to reduce the uses of the term "dualism" to a finite number of meanings, the term remains vague and of widely varying application. Abstractly speaking, there is little to be said for or against dualism. Whereas explanations of moral evil lead some to posit two equal principles, the one of good, the other of evil, the motive behind the reasoning is usually to deny that God is the cause of evil. The disadvantage is that God's causality seems thereby restricted and so too His preeminence. Physical dualisms, which often have epistemological sources, have the advantage of drawing a sharp distinction between the human and the nonhuman, between the spiritual and the corporeal. The disadvantage of so sharp a demarcation is that such a dualism is finally unable to account for the fact that man's vocabulary embraces the two spheres. In the final analysis, it seems that dualism is a second-order word; it is not so much a philosophical theory as a term to describe theories.

See Also: monism; persian religion, ancient; pluralism, philosophical.

Bibliography: j. hastings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 13 v. (Edinburgh 190827) 5:100114. p. foulquiÉ and r. saint-jean, Dictionnaire de la langue philosophique (Paris 1962) 190191. g. semprini, Enciclopedia filosofica, 4 v. (Venice-Rome 1957) 1:174144. j. henninger et al., Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 3:582589. g. mensching and g. gloege, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 195765) 2:272276. r. eisler, Wörterbuch der philosophischen Begriffe, 3v. (4th ed. Berlin 192730) 1:294296.

[r. m. mcinerny]


views updated May 21 2018


DUALISM , the religious or philosophical doctrine which holds that reality consists, or is the outcome, of two ultimate principles which cannot be reduced to one more ultimate first cause. Dualistic systems have appeared in philosophical (metaphysical) as well as moral forms, both of which have exerted considerable influence on the history of religions, including the history of Judaism.

Philosophical Dualism

In the history of Western thought, philosophical dualism goes back to *Platonism and *neoplatonism which developed and spread the idea of an opposition between spirit and matter, spirit being the higher, purer, and eternal principle, whereas matter was the lower and imperfect form of being, subject to change and corruption. Applied to the understanding of the nature of man, this meant that man was composed of a lower, material part (the body), and a higher, spiritual part (the soul). This dualism could, and not infrequently did, lead to a contempt for the body and for "this world" in general, and encouraged a moral outlook which held *asceticism (or, in its more extreme forms, total renunciation of the world) to be the way by which the soul could liberate itself from the hold of the body and, purifying itself of the bodily passions, render itself worthy again of returning to its celestial and spiritual home. This view exerted considerable influence on Jewish thinking in the Hellenistic period (see *Philo) and in the philosophy and *Musar literature of the middle ages, though its more radical forms were partly inhibited by the rabbinic tradition which considered the physical universe and its enjoyment as essentially good, provided they were hallowed in the service of God.

Moral Dualism

Although moral dualism generally tended to express itself in the forms of a thoroughgoing metaphysical dualism, the term is justified inasmuch as it reflects the basic doctrine that good and evil were the outcome or product of two distinct and ultimate first causes. The best known form of this dualism is the ancient religion of Persia (Zoroastrianism), according to which history is a cosmic struggle between the powers of good, i.e., light, and evil, i.e., darkness. This system has the logical advantage of accounting for evil in terms of a separate, independent principle, and thus exonerating the "good" creator and God from responsibility for the existence, in the world, of evil and sin. On the other hand it raises many other problems and was unacceptable to any form of *monotheism. Some commentators see in the declaration that God "formed the light and created darkness, is the maker of peace and the creator of evil" (Isa. 45:7) the prophet's polemic against this dualism (a polemic, the harshness of which is mitigated by the wording in which this verse appears in the daily morning prayer: "the maker of peace and creator of all" Hertz, Prayer 109). The two types of "philosophical" and "moral" dualism were capable of fusing and merging in various combinations. The body, matter, and "this world" could become identified, or at least associated, with darkness and evil, and the soul, with goodness and light. Another pair of opposites, "spirit" and "flesh," though not identical with Platonic dualism, was yet sufficiently similar to combine with it in various ways. It is this dualism which underlies the theology and anthropology of the *Dead Sea (*Qumran) sect, and of the epistles of Paul in the New Testament. *Gnosticism presents a peculiar combination of the two types of dualism: this world and our bodily existence, being characterized by evil, are the work of a lower, imperfect deity (the "demiurge" or creator), above whom there is a completely distinct, more transcendent and spiritual, good and "true" god. This higher deity intervenes and "saves" the elect from the power of the evil creator who holds them imprisoned in matter and in this world. Some of the gnostic sects equated this lower and evil demiurge with the god of the Hebrew Bible, i.e., with the Jewish God and giver of the law. Gnostic dualism has therefore been described as a metaphysical antisemitism. The gnostic rejection of creation and the cosmos, as well as of the biblical law, as the work of a lower, evil, or at least imperfect, power led in some cases to manifestations of *antinomianism, and in others to a very rigorous asceticism and rejection of this world.

Dualism in Jewish History

Whether or not Isaiah 45:7 is a polemical reference to Persian dualism (see above), it is evident that dualistic tendencies asserted themselves in the Second Temple period and in the first centuries of the common era. These were of a neo-platonic, later also of a gnostic, character. In a general way it can be said that apart from the "heretical" dualistic doctrines of some gnostic sectarians (see *Minim), Judaism could accommodate a "mitigated dualism," i.e., doctrines and attitudes which express metaphysical or moral contrasts in a dualistic manner, but without attributing to them an ultimate character or calling in question the sovereignty of the one omnipotent and good Creator God. This mitigated dualism can be found in some of the biblical *Apocrypha (e.g., *Jubilees or the Testaments of the *Patriarchs) and especially in the writings of the Dead Sea sect, whose doctrines of the spirit and the flesh, of the spirits (or angels), of purity and impurity, i.e., of light and darkness, come as near to a dualistic system as Judaism could tolerate. Yet even these beliefs can be characterized as a "dualism under God," since the spirits of light and darkness were held to exist through God's inscrutable will and to be subject to him. The Platonic dualistic spirit-matter (i.e., the realm of ideas as against the material world) penetrated rabbinic Judaism in the form of the soul-body dualism (cf. Plato's Phaedo, 67), and the belief in the preexistence of the soul. The doctrine of the immortality of the (spiritual) soul reflects, in this respect, a more dualistic anthropology than the doctrine of the resurrection of the body (see *Eschatology, Immortality of *Soul, *Resurrection). Rabbinic theology in general tended to reject or at least to mitigate dualistic tendencies. Thus the doctrine of the good and evil yeẓer (see Good and Evil *Inclination) is a transposition onto a more psychological (and hence theologically more harmless) level of what, for the Qumran covenanters and others, were metaphysical opposites. Talmudic literature has many polemical references to those who believe in shetei reshuyyot ("two powers"). Other polemical references are directed at the gnostic distinction between the supreme God on the one hand, and the Creator-Lawgiver on the other. Thus the kofer ba-ikkar (one who denies the essence of the faith) is said to be one who denies his creator and the giver of the Law (cf. Tosef. Shav. 3:7).

Dualism in Jewish Mysticism

The esoteric discipline and ecstatic visionary practices of the early *Merkabah mystics, while exhibiting certain gnostic traits, certainly did not share the basic dualism of the great gnostic systems. Dualistic elements, however, were not absent, as, e.g., in the doctrine of *Metatron (originally Javel) as the "lesser yhwh." In fact, the term yoẓer bereshit ("Creator") was deprived of any possible gnostic connotation by being used, in the *Shi'ur Komah literature, for the manifestation of God on the Throne of Glory. Another kind of dualism is involved in the radical distinction made by the kabbalists between the hidden, inaccessible deus absconditus (the Ein Sof), and the godhead as manifested in the *Sefirot. The latter two are occasionally described in a dualistic manner (right-left, male-female), but the essential point of the kabbalists was precisely the ultimate mystical unity behind the multiple manifestations.

The dualistic tendency is, perhaps, most marked in the kabbalistic treatment of the problem of evil. The profound sense of the reality of evil brought many kabbalists to posit a realm of the demonic, the sitra aḥra (or "aẓilut of the left"), a kind of negative mirror image of the "side of holiness" with which it was locked in combat. Nevertheless, here too it is necessary to distinguish between dualistic tendency and dualistic theory. It is precisely because kabbalistic doctrine does not know an ultimate dualism, that it is forced to seek the origin of the demonic realm of the kelippot somewhere in the sphere of divine emanation – whether in the sefirah gevurah (din) or (as in Lurianic kabbalism) in even more hidden aspects of the godhead. More than anything else, it is this awareness of the reality of evil, coupled with an essentially monotheistic rather than dualistic theology of the Zoroastrian type, which gives kabbalistic speculation such an audacious and indeed all but "heretical" quality. In medieval philosophy, the solution proposed for the problem of evil and its possible dualistic implications was the theory that evil had no substantial existence of its own but was a negation of good, even as darkness was the absence of light (cf. *Maimonides, Guide, 3:8; see also *Good and Evil). The first Jewish philosopher to argue systematically and at length against dualistic notions was *Saadiah Gaon in his Beliefs and Opinions (treatise 2).

Prophetic Dualism

While Judaism can thus be said to have been consistently anti-dualistic in the sense of recognizing only one ultimate cause and source of all being – including the opposites characteristic of being – there is another sense in which biblical and prophetic religion can be said to be dualistic. It assumes a radical distinction between the absolute being of God and the contingent being of all other (i.e., created) things. Contact and communion with God is possible in love, obedience, or mystical contemplation, but no identity of the creature with the creator is possible. Systems of thought which assert that all being is ultimately one and that the duality of God and the world (or God and the soul) can be transcended in a more profound unity have not been able to maintain themselves in any significant measure in Judaism. Pantheism and other forms of metaphysical or mystical monism (see *God, Conceptions of) have never been dominant Jewish philosophies.


S. Pétrement, Le dualisme chez Platon, les gnostiques et les manichéens (1947); Guttmann, Philosophies, index; D. Flusser, in: Scripta Hierosolymitana, 4 (1958), 215–66; G.R. Driver, The Judean Scrolls (1965), 550–62; A.C. Leaney, The Rule of Qumran and its Meaning (1966), index; M. Burrows, More Light on the Dead Sea Scrolls (1958), index; I. Tishby, Mishnat ha-Zohar, 1 (1949), 285–343.

[R. J. Zwi Werblowsky]


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This term dualism is used to describe any system in which there are two realities. The term is sometimes used to express the existence of two gods or the existence of God and the cosmos, but its most common usage is in the philosophy of human nature. A dualist holds that a human person is constituted by a body and what may be called a mind or soul or consciousness. Some dualists hold that persons are nonphysical concrete subjects who are embodied contingently. That is, a person may survive the destruction of his or her body, or one's body may continue to exist (as a corpse) after one has ceased to be. The greatest competing philosophy of human nature is materialism. While representatives of dualism in contemporary philosophy are in the minority, dualism is not easily uprooted philosophically, religiously, or culturally.

On the philosophical front, materialists often have difficulty capturing the evident existence of consciousness or felt experiences. Human thinking, sensing, and feeling appear to be different in kind from brain processes and other bodily activity. At a minimum, there is a profound causal relation between the two (one's thinking is contingent on neurological events), and yet a causal relation is not the same thing as identity. The mental and physical may be causally interdependent without being identical. Since 1980, a range of philosophers who are materialists either in their convictions or inclinations (e.g., Thomas Nagel, Colin McGinn, Jaegwon Kim, and John Pollock), have insisted that there are serious problems with identifying consciousness with physical states and processes.

A shift in contemporary science has also bolstered the case for dualism. So long as a strictly deterministic physical science dominated the view of nature, it appeared that something nonphysical (states of consciousness or the soul) would have no causal role in explaining events in the world. This would render a dualist account of action absurd. But quantum mechanics has advanced an indeterminist view of the cosmos, and it is more difficult to rule out dualism.

From a religious point of view, dualism is in play with most but not all traditions that acknowledge an afterlife. Some religions believe in a resurrection of the dead in which a person survives death by their material body being either reconstituted or re-created. But even these religions often preserve some immaterial locus or referent to secure a person's identity; in between physical death and resurrection a person might still be thought of as present to God. Virtually all religions that include a belief in reincarnation allow that there is some immaterial aspect to a person's or a soul's identity. If persons are identical with their bodies, then what happens to persons and bodies are the very same; dualism allows persons and souls to share a different fate from their bodies.

Dualism also receives some support from cultures that routinely adopt different methods for studying and talking about persons as opposed to studying and talking about their bodies. Consider a modest example in English: It can make sense to say that someone is in class but that his or her mind is far away.

History of the concept

Historically, the ancient Greek philosopher Plato (428347 b.c.e.) was a key advocate of a form of dualism. Dualism is integral to his case for the immortality of the soul, as expressed in the Phaedrus, Phaedo, and Republic. Plato posited not just a postmortem existence but life before material embodiment (prenatal existence). Plato thought of a person's material embodiment as good but also as something that impedes the soul's longing for the good, the true, and the beautiful. Compared with the beauty and glory of disembodied life, material existence can be like a prison. The early Christian leader Augustine of Hippo (354430 c.e.) developed a Platonic form of Christianity, rejecting some of Plato's beliefs (Augustine rejected pre-natal existence, as well as Plato's view of the divine as a finite reality) but preserving his dualism and the centrality of the good.

Some Platonic Christians in the medieval period speculated that God creates a host of various forms of intelligence in either embodied or disembodied form. This formed part of the principle of plentitude in medieval thought. The philosopher Thomas Aquinas (12251274) preserved much of the Platonic, Augustinian tradition but he more firmly insisted that human beings are comprised of matter and form. He still allowed that a person's soul persists after death, so Aquinas's reservations about radical dualism were limited.

Modern philosophy in Europe focussed on three philosophies of human nature. Dualism was championed by René Descartes (15961650); Cartesian dualism was advanced based on the conceivability of the self without the body. Thomas Hobbes (15881679) was very much on the other side. According to Hobbes, only matter exists and the very notion of there being something immaterial was nonsense. Hobbes insisted that even God is a material reality. A third position was championed by George Berkeley (16851753) who held that matter was not a fundamental, mind-independent reality. The cosmos is made up of minds and their sensory experiences. Berkeley's thesis that only minds and their states and activities exist is called idealism. In the eighteenth century it was possible to see dualism as a mediating, moderate choice between the extremes of materialism and idealism.

Many contemporary Christian theologians see dualism as part of an undesirable body-hatred; dualism is accused of foisting on people an excessively fragmented view of embodiment. Moreover, dualism is thought to reflect a vain attempt by humans to distinguish themselves from the rest of creation. These objections all seem answerable. There is no necessity for dualists to see embodiment in negative terms. And while a person's psychological and physical life can be fragmented, there is no need for dualism to regard human embodiment as always laden with bifurcation. Dualists may see the embodied person as a functional unity. As for the question of human pride, Descartes famously denied nonhuman animals were like humans in possessing (or being) minds. Descartes read nature in mechanical terms while he tried to secure an exception for human life. But most contemporary dualists see the emergence of consciousness as something involving nonhuman animal life; people share with some nonhumans in having experiences and possessing psychological abilities. Dualists tend to see the emergence of consciousness as something that prevails throughout the animal world and not something limited exclusively to human beings.

See also Augustine; Embodiment; Materialism; Mind-body Theories; Mind-brain Interaction; Monism; Plato; Thomas Aquinas


cooper, john. body, soul and life everlasting: biblical anthropology and the monism-dualism debate. grand rapids, mich.: eerdmans, 1989.

foster, john. the immaterial self: a defence of the cartesian dualist conception of the mind. london: routledge, 1991.

hart, w. d. the engines of the soul. cambridge, uk: cambridge university press, 1988.

hasker, william. the emergent self. ithaca, n.y.: cornell university press, 2000.

lovejoy, arthur o. the great chain of being: a study of the history of an idea (1936). cambridge, mass.: harvard university press, 1970.

nagel, thomas. "what is it like to be a bat?" philosophical review 83 (1974): 435450.

smythies, john r., and beloff, john, eds. the case for dualism. charlottesville: university of virginia press, 1989.

swinburne, richard. the evolution of the soul. oxford: oxford university press, 1986.

taliaferro, charles. consciousness and the mind of god. cambridge, uk: cambridge university press, 1994.

charles taliaferro


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In the history of religion, dualism refers to the eighteenth-century doctrines that see God and the devil as two first principles, irreducible and coeternal. Christian Wolff (1734/1968) classified dogmatic philosophies into dualistic systems, which separated the soul from the body as distinct substances, and monistic systems, both groups being distinct from skepticism. In anthropology, epistemology, and ethics, a theory is dualistic when two irreducible principles can serve as a foundation for the theory.

From "A case of successful treatment by hypnotism" (1892-1893) to his last works, Sigmund Freud envisioned mental processes as resulting from underlying conflicts, fed by opposing forces: "Psychoanalysis early became aware that all mental occurrences must be regarded as built on the basis of an interplay of the forces of the elementary instincts" (1923a). In the first topographic subsystem, these forces arise from the sexual instincts in conflict with the ego, or self-preservation, instincts. Later Freud (1914c) said that they arise from the object libido in conflict with the ego libido, as well as from the pressure of the drives. In the second topographic subsystem (after 1920), they arise from the life and death drives. These forces structure the form and dynamics of the mental processes.

Although Freud emphasized the existence of two types of drives in his dualistic approach, he avoids the word "dualism." Originating in the body, effecting the association of body and mind, and causing physical changes (conversion) or other types of modifications (other defenses), the drives create a dualistic dynamic, though this is not sufficient for saying that psychoanalytic theory is dualistic.

As Freud's research evolved, the essential polarities and the role of instinctual dualism changed as well. When studying the transference neuroses, Freud postulated an "opposition between the 'sexual impulses' directed toward the object and other impulses that we can only identify imperfectly and temporarily designate with the name 'ego instincts' " Freud noted the concordance with the opposition between hunger and love. He added, "In the forefront of these instincts, we must recognize the instincts that serve for the preservation of the individual" (1920g). In the first topographic subsystem, these forces arising from instincts were like vectors applied to quasi points (unconscious representations). In this way they resembled the structures of classical physics (Freud, 1899a).

Freud's introduction, between 1911 and 1915, of narcissism, of the ego as agency, of transference (rather than phenomenological transfer), and of a series of correlative terms of considerable scope shows his dissatisfaction with the former dynamic system. Freud then insisted that antagonistic forces account for morphogenesis, stabilization, and the evolution (in modern terms, structural stability) of large irreducible structures such as the ego, the ego ideal, and certain identifications.

After a period of confusion when Freud replaced the dynamics of conflict with the opposition between object libido and ego, together with the pressure of the drive, Freud proposed the dualism of the life and death drives. A chiasma was introduced, since the sex drive, a disturbing toxic force in the first topographic subsystem, was now integrated in the life drive (germen ), while the ego instincts (soma ) were partially integrated in the death drive. The difficulty that this chiasma creates can be resolved by assuming that the new dualism, which is more comprehensive, resolves conflicts between tendencies with different degrees of stability. The ego affects its own immediate stability by conflicting with the expression of sexuality, which forces the ego to change. The sexual drive is directed, in the last instance, at the long-term structural stability of the species.

Drive dualism correlates with a number of conflicts. These include the polarities of mental life: the economic polarity of pleasure and unpleasure, the reality polarities of the ego and the outside world, the biological polarities of activity and passivity. This last pair introduces the polarities around which the contrasts between the sexes develop: active/passive, phallic/nonphallic, masculine/feminine. In ambivalence there is movement between love and hate, and ultimately between the life and death drives; or between the pleasure principle and the reality (formerly constancy) principle, and ultimately between the life and death drives.

The dualism of the life and death drives has often been rejected or poorly understood. It has been interpreted in an exclusively realist sense (Melanie Klein and the Paris school of psychosomatics) even though there was also a theoretical component. The repetition compulsion and death drive have been unilaterally interpreted as nondynamic structural formalisms. Freud's requirements for drive theory involve dynamically accounting for the simple stability that repetition implies (for example, in symptoms) while taking into account the structural stability (always deviating in the same way) that the majority of mental structures implement. "But," according to Freud (1920g), "in no region of psychology were we groping more in the dark [than in the case of the drives]." Only Gustav Fechner and his hypotheses of stability were of use to Freud. Contemporary dynamicists provide more refined instruments for plumbing the depths of Freudian drive dualism while respecting its preconditions.

MichÈle Porte

See also: Ambivalence; Beyond the Pleasure Principle ; Demand; Destrudo; Ego-instinct; Fusion/defusion of instincts; Libido; Life instinct (Eros); Monism; Psychology of Women. The, A Psychoanalytic Interpretation, The ; Psychosomatic limit/boundary.


Freud, Sigmund. (1892-1893). A case of successful treatment by hypnotism. SE, 1: 115-128.

. (1899a). Screen memories. SE, 3: 299-322.

. (1914c). On narcissism: an introduction. SE, 14: 67-102.

. (1920g). Beyond the pleasure principle. SE, 18: 1-64.

. (1923). The libido theory. SE, 18: 255-259.

Laplanche, Jean. (1970). Vie et mort en psychanalyse. Paris: Flammarion.

Wolff, Christian. (1968). Psychologia rationalis. Hildesheim, Germany: Olms. (Originally published 1734)


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du·al·ism / ˈd(y)oōəˌlizəm/ • n. 1. the division of something conceptually into two opposed or contrasted aspects, or the state of being so divided: a dualism between man and nature. ∎  Philos. a theory or system of thought that regards a domain of reality in terms of two independent principles, esp. mind and matter (Cartesian dualism). Compare with idealism, materialism, and monism. ∎  the religious doctrine that the universe contains opposed powers of good and evil, esp. seen as balanced equals. ∎  in Christian theology, the heresy that in the incarnate Christ there were two coexisting persons, human and divine.2. the quality or condition of being dual; duality.DERIVATIVES: du·al·ist n. & adj.du·al·is·tic / ˌd(y)oōəˈlistik/ adj.du·al·is·ti·cal·ly / ˌd(y)oōəˈlistik(ə)lē/ adv.


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Dualism (Lat., dualis). The conjunction of two (usually opposing) entities or principles. The term was used by T. Hyde in 1700 (The Ancient Persian Religions) to describe the conflict between good and evil (Ormazd and Ahriman) in Zoroastrianism; but it is used of many religious and philosophical dualities, e.g. mind and matter (as in Cartesian dualism), material and spiritual (as in Manichaeism), yin and yang.


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dualism Any theory that identifies an irreducible distinction between two classes of thing. Those of most interest to sociologists are ethical dualism, which states an irreducible difference between statements of fact and value-judgements; explanatory dualism, which holds that while natural events have causes, human actions can only be explained by reference to motives or reasons; the doctrine that mind and matter exist as independent entities; and the idea of the religious and the secular being parallel and independent spheres of life, governed by different laws. See also DESCARTES, RENÉ.


views updated May 17 2018

dualism Doctrine in philosophy and metaphysics that recognizes two basic and mutually independent principles, such as mind and matter, body and soul, or good and evil. Dualism contrasts with monism. Both Plato and Descartes were dualists, but more modern philosophers, influenced by the discoveries of science, have tended towards monism.