philosophical or religious belief in two fundamental substances or principles, which often oppose each other

Dualism (from the Latin word duo meaning "two") denotes a state of two parts. The term 'dualism' was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition, a meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been diluted in other usages to indicate a system which contains two essential parts in its own.

All existence seemed to be based on duality, on contrast.
- Hermann Hesse (1930) Narcissus and Goldmund.


  • We must no more ask whether the soul and body are one than ask whether the wax and the figure impressed on it are one.
    • Aristotle, in Aristotle's Psychology as translated by E. Wallace (1882), p. 61
  • The idea of physical resurrection struck them [the Greeks] as ghoulish. ...Matter is the very principle of unintelligibity [or lack of intelligence]. Best to be done with it. For the Jews, who had little of no belief in the immortality of the soul, only salvation in one's body could have any meaning.
    • Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter (2003) Ch.VII The Way They Went: Greco-Roman Meets Judeo-Christian
  • People often prefer to believe that there is a disembodied soul that, in some utterly mysterious way, does the actual seeing, helped by the elaborate apparatus of the brain. Some people are called "dualists"—they believe that matter is one thing and mind is something completely different. Our Astonishing Hypothesis says, on the contrary, that this is not the case, that it's all done by nerve cells. What we are considering is how to decide between these two views experimentally.
    • Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientiic Search for the Soul (1994)
  • The mystical trend of our time, which shows itself particularly in the rampant growth of the so-called Theosophy and Spiritualism, is for me no more than a symptom of weakness and confusion. Since our inner experiences consist of reproductions, and combinations of sensory impressions, the concept of a soul without a body seem to me to be empty and devoid of meaning.
  • Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.
    History jeers at the attempts of physiologists to bind great original laws by the forms which flow from them. They make a rule; they say from observation what can and cannot be. In vain! Nature provides exceptions to every rule. She sends women to battle, and sets Hercules spinning; she enables women to bear immense burdens, cold, and frost; she enables the man, who feels maternal love, to nourish his infant like a mother.
  • A positive pressure produces an attractive gravitational field... and negative pressures produce repulsive gravity, and that's the secret of what makes inflation possible.
    • Alan Guth, Lecture 1: Inflationary Cosmology: Is Our Universe Part of a Multiverse? Part I.
  • All existence seemed to be based on duality, on contrast. Either one was a man or one was a woman, either a wanderer or sedentary burgher, either a thinking person or a feeling person-no one could breathe in at the same time as he breathed out, be a man as well as a woman, experience freedom as well as order, combine instinct and mind. One always had to pay for one with the loss of the other, and one thing was always just as important and desirable as the other.
  • Perhaps the most concise summary of enlightenment would be: transcending dualism. … Dualism is the conceptual division of the world into categories … human perception is by nature a dualistic phenomenon—which makes the quest for enlightenment an uphill struggle, to say the least.
  • The Descartian notion of a mechanical body presided over by an independent entity called the soul is replaced, as the "matter" of theoretical physics becomes more attenuated, by the notion of the transformation within the organism of mind-states into body-states, and vice-versa. The dualism of the dead mechanical body, belonging to the world of matter, and the vital transcendental soul, belonging to the spiritual realm, disappears before the increasing insight, derived from physiology on one hand and the investigation of neuroses on the other, of a dynamic interpenetration and conversion within the boundaries of organic structures and functions. Now the physical and the psychal become different aspects of the organic process, in much the same way that heat and light are both aspects of energy, differentiated only by the situation to which they refer and by the particular set of receptors upon which they act.
  • Dualism is the real root of our suffering and of all our conflicts. All our concepts and beliefs, no matter how profound they may seem, are like nets which trap us in dualism. When we discover our limits we have to try to overcome them, untying ourselves from whatever type of religious, political or social conviction may condition us. We have to abandon such concepts as 'enlightenment', 'the nature of the mind', and so on, until we are no longer satisfied by a merely intellectual knowledge, and until we no longer neglect to integrate our knowledge with our actual existence.
  • Today secularists do pretty much the same thing. Modern secular thought has its own dualism: It treats only the physical world as knowable and testable, while locking everything else - mind, spirit, morality, meaning - into the realm of private, subjective feelings. The so-called fact/value split.
  • As regards knowledge of truths, there is a dualism. We may believe what is false as well as what is true. ...Since erroneous beliefs are often held just as strongly as true beliefs, it becomes a difficult question how they are to be distinguished from true beliefs. How are we to know, in a given case, that our belief is not erroneous? This is a question of the very greatest difficulty, to which no completely satisfactory answer is possible. There is, however, a preliminary question which is rather less difficult, and that is: What do we mean by truth and falsehood?
  • Death, says Socrates, is the separation of the soul from the body. Here we come upon Plato's dualism: between reality and appearance, ideas and sensible objects, reason and sense perception, soul and body. These pairs are connected: the first in each pair is superior to the second both in reality and in goodness. An ascetic morality was the natural consequence of this dualism. Christianity adopted this doctrine in part, but never wholly. There were two obstacles. The first was that the creation of the visible world, if Plato was right, must have been an evil deed, and therefore the Creator could not be good. The second was that orthodox Christianity could never bring itself to condemn marriage, though it held celibacy to be nobler. The Manichaeans were more consistent in both respects.
  • Dualism makes the problem insoluble; materialism denies the existence of any phenomenon to study, and hence of any problem.
  • Abide not with dualism,
    Carefully avoid pursuing it;
    As soon as you have right and wrong,
    Confusion ensues, and Mind is lost.
  • There is no God separate from you, no God higher than you, the real 'you'. All the gods are little beings to you, all the ideas of God and Father in heaven are but your own reflection. God Himself is your image. 'God created man after His own image.' That is wrong. Man creates God after his own image. That is right. Throughout the universe we are creating gods after our own image. We create the god and fall down at his feet and worship him; and when this dream comes, we love it!

In religious scriptures

  • "I am the Life Who was from aforetime;
I am the kušṭa that was the first at the beginning.
I am the radiance, I am the light.
I am the death, I am the Life.
I am the darkness, I am the light.
I am the error, I am the truth.
I am the destruction, I am the construction.
I am the (unwitting) offence, I am the purification.
I am the outstanding man who is older and earlier than the builder of the heavens and the earth.
I have no friend as king, and there is no crown in my kingdom.
There is no person who could give me information in the clouds of darkness.
  • For I am knowledge and ignorance.
    I am shame and boldness.
    I am shameless; I am ashamed.
    I am strength and I am fear.
    I am war and peace.
  • When all under heaven know beauty as beauty, already there is ugliness;
When everyone knows goodness, this accounts for badness.
Being and nonbeing give birth to each other,
Difficult and easy complete each other,
Long and short form each other,
High and low fulfill each other,
Tone and voice harmonize with each other,
Front and back follow each other—
it is ever thus.
  • "Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled."

See also

Wikipedia has an article about:
  1. MacRae, George W. (tr.) (1990). "The Thunder, Perfect Mind". in Robinson, James M.. The Nag Hammadi Library. San Francisco: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060669357.