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Dualism denotes a state of two parts. The word's origin is the Latin duo, "two". 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 general or common usages.


Moral dualism

Moral dualism is the belief of the great complement (in eastern and naturalistic religions) or conflict (in western religions) between the benevolent and the malignant. Most religious systems have some form of moral dualism - in western religions, for instance, a conflict between good and evil.

Like ditheism/bitheism (see below), moral dualism does not imply the absence of monist or monotheistic principles. Moral dualism simply implies that there are two moral opposites at work, independent of any interpretation of what might be "moral" and - unlike ditheism/bitheism - independent of how these may be represented.

For example, Mazdaism (Mazdaen Zoroastrianism) is both dualistic and monotheistic (but not monist by definition) since in that philosophy God—the Creator—is purely good, and the antithesis—which is also uncreated—is an absolute one. Zurvanism (Zurvanite Zoroastrianism), Manichaeism and Mandaeism, are representative of dualistic and monist philosophies since each has a supreme and transcendental First Principle from which the two equal-but-opposite entities then emanate. This is also true for the lesser-known Christian gnostic religions, such as Bogomils, Catharism, etc. More complex forms of monist dualism also exist, for instance in Hermeticism, where Nous "thought" - that is described to have created man - brings forth both good and evil, dependent on interpretation, whether it receives prompting from the God or from the Demon. Duality with pluralism is considered a logical fallacy.

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