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Monism, Indian

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-F062-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 19, 2024, from

Article Summary

The prominent classical and modern Indian philosophy known as Advaita Vedānta, which insists on the single reality of Brahman (the Absolute), is often identified as Indian monism. But the monism of Advaita is only a portion, albeit central, of the Advaita view. Furthermore, a monism in theology (Brahman as God) is important to almost all expressions, classical and modern, of Indian theism.

The monism of Advaita is principally psychological. Nondual awareness is considered the true self; that is to say, in the self’s native state, the object of awareness and awareness itself are identical. This kind of awareness is claimed to be presupposed by all dualistic consciousness. Moreover, it is said that only self-aware self-awareness itself cannot be revealed by experience to be illusory. And according to Advaita, a supreme mystical experience, popularly called liberation, does in fact, when it occurs, reveal self-awareness to be the sole reality. A dialectical Advaita adds the further contention that it is impossible to define and explain coherently diverse appearances. This contention is cashed out by long and intricate attacks on the pluralistic ontologies of rival schools, particularly Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika.

The monism of Indian theism centres on the reality of God, who is constrained by metaphysical law to create out of the single spiritual substance that God is. The world is commonly said to be God’s body. Various ramifications of God’s being in some way everything can be discerned in Indian theology.

Citing this article:
Phillips, Stephen H.. Monism, Indian, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-F062-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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