What Is Dualism And Monism?

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The question whether the brain, soul, and mind are the same things or distinct is an unending debate. But the philosophers have come up with their own theories like Dualism and Monism to solve the mind-body problem. Dualism takes mind and body (or matter), as two separate domains, while Monism holds that all we know is the various manifestations of a single absolute entity. The theories such as dualism and monism comes under the philosophy of mind which is a branch of philosophy.

Key Terms in the Article:


Dualism means that a being is two different substance, one is physical(matter) or the body and the other is mental or the brain/mind, this is also called substance dualism. In simple words, dualists state that mind and body are two separate things. Dualism can be traced back to the works of the famous Greek philosopher Plato. According to him, the body and the soul are two separate things that interact with each other. They interact with each other, and the body will die but soul will not because the soul is immortal and comprises of who we really are, so our soul is the part of us that is us.

Property Dualism is another type of dualism which claims that though the mind(soul) is distinct from the physical human body but, they are still connected and the soul will die with the body. The idea of dualism was resurrected by the philosopher of seventeenth and eighteenth century. Dualism was emphasized by René Descartes, who was a French philosopher and is also know as the father of modern philosophy. René Descartes is the most famous proponent of mind-body dualism that is why the view is also sometimes called as cartesian dualism. According to him, the mind includes all of our feelings and our sensations that we can’t locate physically in our body. He said, the soul was found in the pineal gland of the brain so for Descartes there was a soul and our mind is distinct our soul exists in our brain where our mind is and it exists as a separate thing to the body, and to him soul was the link between the physical and mental substance.

Theories of Dualism:

  • Interactionism, which states that mind and body, are separate and distinct substances but they interact with each other casually.
  • Parallelism is a dualist theory of mind-body interaction, and according to this theory the mental and physical events run on a parallelly but do not causally interact with one another.
  • Epiphenomenalism is a view that mental events are caused by physical events in the brain, but have little impact on physical events. It is also viewed as a form of property dualism. 


The theory of dualism is often decarded by the philosopher who are in the favor of monism, which is a theory or doctrine that rejects the existence of a distinction or duality in a specific sphere, such as between matter and mind. It means singleness or oneness of anything, and that any phenomenon we encounter can be explained in terms of one universal common entity.

Types of Monism:

  • Attributive Monism is the belief that no matter how many substances there are, they are all of the same ultimate nature.
  • Substance Monism is the theory that the apparent plurality of substances is due to various states or appearances of a single substance.
  • Partial Monism means that there is only one substance within a given domain of being (however many there may be).
  • Genus Monism is described as “the doctrine that there is a highest category; for example, being.”
  • Priority Monism means the whole is prior to its parts, or the world has parts, but the parts are dependent fragments of an interconnected whole.
  • Existence Monism is the belief that there is only one concrete object token.
  • Property Monism is described as the belief that all properties are of the same kind (e.g., only physical properties exist).

Monism Vs Dualism:

Monism is the belief that ultimately the mind and the brain are the same thing. But the idea of dualism, is the view that the mind and body operate separately.

Representative thinkers of the theories:


  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • René Descartes


  • George Berkeley
  • Baruch de Spinoza

If you want to learn more about other theories of philosophy, click on the highlighted text.

And you if want to go in depths of mind-body dualism, then you can read Mind-body Dualism: A Philosophical Investigation by Alpana Chakraborty

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