Monism  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry, where this is not to be expected. Thus, some philosophers may hold that the universe is really just one thing, despite its many appearances and diversities; or theology may support the view that there is one God, with many manifestations in different religions. Hinduism is considered to be primary proponent of Monism. In the Hindu religion, Brahman (Devanāgarī: ब्रह्मन् bráhman) is the eternal, unchanging, infinite, imminent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe. The nature of Brahman is described as transpersonal, personal and impersonal by different philosophical schools and the Brahman religious belief is just seen as different paths to the one god.

Philosophical monism

Monism in philosophy can be defined according to three kinds:

  1. Idealism, phenomenalism, or mentalistic monism which holds that only mind is real.
  2. Neutral monism, which holds that both the mental and the physical can be reduced to some sort of third substance, or energy.
  3. Physicalism or materialism, which holds that only the physical is real, and that the mental or spiritual can be reduced to the physical.
Certain other positions are hard to pigeonhole into the above categories, see links below.

Ancient Western philosophers

The following pre-Socratic philosophers described reality as being monistic:

  • Thales: Water.
  • Anaximander: Apeiron (meaning 'the undefined infinite'). Reality is some, one thing, but we cannot know what.
  • Anaximenes: Air.
  • Heraclitus: Fire (in that everything is in constant flux).
  • Parmenides: Being. Reality is an unmoving perfect sphere, unchanging, undivided.

And post-Socrates:

  • Neopythagorians such as Apollonius of Tyana centered their cosmologies on the Monad or One.
  • Stoics, like Spinoza later, taught that there is only one substance, identified as God.
  • Middle Platonism under such works as Numenius express the Universe emanating from the Monad or One.
  • Neoplatonism is Monistic. Plotinus taught that there was an ineffable transcendent God, 'The One,' of which subsequent realities were emanations. From The One emanates the Divine Mind (Nous), the Cosmic Soul (Psyche), and the World (Cosmos).

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Monism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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