Pluralism (philosophy)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In philosophy, Pluralism is as opposed to monism and dualism. The debates center around different sets of concepts depending on whether the context is metaphysics or the context is epistemology.

In metaphysics, pluralism claims a plurality of basic substances making up the world. The philosopher Descartes defined each substance as that analytical point at which "we can understand nothing else than an entity which is in such a way that it need no other entity in order to be." Monism holds a godlike oneness of being in an existence of a single substance. Dualism visualizes two substances - material and mind.

In epistemology (how we conceive the structure of "truth"), pluralism is the opposite extreme to pragmatism. Pluralism employs conceptual relativism, while pragmatism employs the radical empiricism's radical translation of the world by way of radical interpretation. Pluralism handles new information by structuring it relationally to other information, while pragmatism handles it by assigning existential meaning to a personal immediacy. Pluralism is metaphysical and meta-ethical, and espouses a cultural relativism with strong social constructivism, while Pragmatism is physical, ethical in their opinion and of weak social constructivism. In epistemology Pluralism is relativistic in the way it deals with concepts. For example, taking the concept of human culture, pluralism takes the way of cultural relativism. Here it considers how local natural geography and local history gave rise to cultural truths. Then it considers the set of cultural descriptions of each part of the world, and how they possibly contains mutually exclusive truths. Each can be complete and true in their own yet cause falsities when extended to overlap.

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