For centuries philosophers have debated on monism and dualism, two different philosophical views of the human person. Philosophers have been trying to decipher whether the person is made up of the mind, the body, or both. Monists hold the belief that existence is purely based upon one ultimate "category of being" this means that either the person is made up of only the body or only the mind (Morris p 155). Dualists hold the belief that existence is based upon the body as well as the mind and its mental properties (Morris p 155).
There are two basic types of monism. The first view is materialism, which states, "All that exists is matter, configured into material objects" (Morris p 155). In other words materialists believe everything that exists is purely physical. Materialists believe that existence is only based on the body. This leads to the materialist assumption that people do not exist with their mind, soul or spirit (Morris p 155). The essence of the materialist view is that a human being is made up of and functions by means of matter and every action or thing has physical means that it exists upon.
"All things, no matter how many or of what variety, can be reduced to one unified thing in time, space, or quality" (Encyclopedia of Philosophy-Monism). There are different renditions of materialism known among modern philosophers. One rendition of materialism is called eliminative materialism. Eliminative materialism implies that there are no such things as thoughts, pains, and feelings but that our brain is simply made up of events that cause these emotions (Morris p 159). For example, if a person puts their hand on a hot stove and jumps, the cause of that jump was the brain and not the stove. Another rendition of materialism is known as reductive materialism.
Contrary to the belief of eliminative materialism, reductive materialism illustrates that sensations such as feelings do exist, and that brain events are the cause of those thoughts, pains, and feelings (Morris p 159). Another form of monism is called idealism. Idealism is a form of monism that proposes the idea that everything is based on the mind or mentality of a person and nothing exists outside of our mind. "The theory is that all that exists is the product of minds or ideas, that physical objects have no existence outside of the mind that is conscious of them" (Xrefer- Monism).
Idealism is simply stating that what we see is merely contributed to our mind and nothing else. In other words, physical things are actually mental and everything is based on the mind. For example, when a person sees a tall tree, the tree does not really exist it is just a picture in their mind. Idealism is not common among modern philosophers because idealists don't have any solid facts for their argument that we exist with only our mind and what our mind produces (Morris p 159). Another argument is that if the tree is a picture in a person's mind then how come another person can see the exact same picture? One type of monism is neutral monism. Neutral monism concludes that neither mental nor physical properties are attributed to reality but rather a substance called neutral stuff (Encyclopedia of Philosophy-Monism).
Traditional materialism in monism proposes all things are part of the physical and the mental, the body and the mind (Encyclopedia of Philosophy-Monism). This means that a person's mind works with their body through a simultaneous connection. Dualists disagree with the monist view of existence. Dualists hold the belief that there is not one basic form of existence but that there are two forms of existence, the body and the mind. Dualists do believe that we exist with both body and mind but that body and mind are different and separate (Xrefer-Dualism). The main problem with the dualist theory is the question of how two different and separate entities, the body and the mind, can interact with each other (Xrefer-Dualism)? Interactionism is one form of dualism.
Interactionism is the view that our body and mind do work with each other but are two separate matters (Morris p 159). What interactionism is saying is that body and mind can connect with one another to cause events but they are not all the same. Interaction ists believe that mental events can lead to physical events just as physical events can lead to mental events (Morris p 160). Epiphenomenalism is another form of dualism. This form of dualism is the view that bodily events can cause mental events but mental events cannot cause bodily events (Morris p 160).
This view does not hold true because a person can indeed think about hitting something before he or she does it and this means that the mental thought would in fact cause the physical act. Parallelism is a form of dualism that confers mental events cannot cause bodily events and bodily events cannot cause mental events. Parallelisms hold the belief that there is a supreme God who establishes the physical and the mental (Morris p 160). This theory is saying that mental events can cause mental events and physical events can cause physical events but the mind and body never interact with each other.
This theory fails just as the Epiphenomenalism theory does because parallelism does not answer the question about when a person's deep feelings do lead them "mental decisions and intentions" (Morris p 161). In conclusion monism and dualism are two opposite views on the mind and the body. There is no creditable evidence to declare either monism or dualism to be true. Philosophers have been debating for years whether the body or the mind is the reason for human existence but neither one hold to be true or false. Monism and dualism simply state different views for existence. Works Cited " Dualism" The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
< web >. "Dualism." Oxford Encyclopedia. < web > Keyword: Dualism." Monism." The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. < web >." Monism." Oxford Encyclopedia.
< web > Keyword: Monism. Morris, Tom. Philosophy For Dummies. California: IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.