"ADVAITA AND MONISM "
guy.werlings at WANADOO.FR
Fri Sep 25 11:27:40 CDT 1998
As a new comer on the list, I have been spending and will continue to
spend a lot of time to go through the archives, to search for items of
special interest to me, or to see what other subjects have been dealt
with before I was a member, or to try to know who is who in the list,
reading the "introduction messages".
Although quite interesting contributions were made on the subject
(question by Ravi 11 Jun 96, answer by Michael Cohen 11 June 96 and
Anand Hudli 13 June 96) why we should say "not two" instead of one, I
think the matter could be discussed again,as it seems there is a lot of
new members since the discussion was held. Perhaps can I/we learn
something from them.
a)My English-Sanskrit dictionary at the entry "monism" translates
advaita which I consider as an error(by the way, this is also the
opinion of our French "Encyclopaedia universalis"
b) herebelow is a quotation from the "Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosohy" , which, I believe, shows our advaita is not monism nor
The term monism was first used by Christian Wolff in his
discussions of the mind-body problem to depict both philosophers who
would only acknowledge the mind (idealism or mentalism) and philosophers
who only acknowledged the body (materialism). The meaning Wolff
originally intended by using the term has broadened in scope through the
centuries, and today applies to any doctrine or theory that claims that
all things, no matter how many or of what variety, can be reduced to one
unified thing in time, space, or quality. Monistic philosophers
including Parmenides, Democritus, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume, Hegel, and
proponents of contemporary atomic theory. The denial of monism forces
commitment to either dualism or pluralism.
Monists take different views about how many substances exist.
Substantial monists, such as Spinoza, maintain that everything is part
of a single substance. Attributive monists maintain that, although there
may be many distinct substances, they are all attributes of one type of
stuff. Other doctrines are classified as types of monism. These include
neutral monism, idealism, traditional materialism, and partial monism.
Traditional materialism is the variety of monism which sees that
everything is based in the material and physical. Hobbes subscribed to
this view. Neutral monism, a doctrine of Hume, Russell, and Mach, denies
that reality is based in neither the physical nor the mental, but rather
in one particular kind of substance that can be classified as
neutral stuff. Phenomenalism, in most instances, is classified under
neutral monism. Idealism is the form of monism which maintains that
everything is based in the mental. The two philosophers most closely
associated with idealism were Berkeley and Hegel, the latter's version
bases everything in and on the World Spirit. Partial monism holds that
if there are many realms of being, then there is still only one
substance within one of the realms upon which everything is based.
Descartes is a half-subscriber to this form of monism ; he accepted this
theory as far as matter was concerned, but rejected it when it was
applied to the mind.
IEP © 1996
c)Spinoza's monism should certainly deserve further attention from
advaitins, and if we had the good fortune of having a specialist of
Spinoza in the list, he could certainly explain to us how far or near
Spinoza's Substance, i.e. God as he defines Him is akin to our Brahman
d) Is there in Indian philosophy any "ekAtmavAda" which would better
deserve to be translated by the word "monism" ? I think I heard at least
the word ekAtmavAda, but perhaps was it in svapasthAna ?!
Regards to All
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