Thread: Apropos display
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Old 22nd May 2010, 06:59 AM   #20
A. G. Maisey
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In Guwaya's post # 15 he has provided an explanation of the terms "dualism" and "polarism", and has then gone on to base his ensuing argument upon these definitions.

I have given considerable thought to this, and have finally come to the decision that a little more attention needs to be given to these two concepts.

The concept of dualism can have many applications, philosophical, religious, societal, to name a few. If we apply the term dualism to a culture , we are referring to the philosophical concepts that govern the way in which that culture is organized. The doctrine of dualism holds that reality consists of two basic principles in opposition that account for all in existence. However, there are many ways in which to understand the principle of dualism, so, when we seek to apply the term to some particular entity, we need to be quite careful in our choice of the philosophical basis of selection. In other words, we cannot apply the type of dualism that is correct for the understanding of oranges to an apple: we need to select the correct form of dualism to use if we wish to have an understanding of the apple.

The concept of dualism in a culture is not unique to Javanese culture, but over many years the objective study of this culture has caused many professionals in the fields of anthropology and sociology to apply the description of "dualism" to Javanese culture. In fact, it is difficult to find a text dealing with Javanese society and culture that does not at some point introduce the concept of it being a dualistic society.

Guwaya has defined dualism as:- "DUALISM means to build mutually exclusive opposites (yes - no; black - white; top - bottom etc.)."

This is arguably an accurate definition as far as it goes. However, this view of dualism is essentially a Western construct, and it cannot be applied to the concept of dualism as it operates within Javanese society and its dominant culture.

The way in which we need to consider dualism within the Javanese context is more closely aligned to way in which this concept operates according to the philosophy of the Tao. As an example, consider the yin-yang symbol:- this is a circle with a waved line dividing it in half, one half is white, one half is black; within each of those halves, one white, one black, is a small circle of the opposite colour, a black circle in the white half, a white circle within the black half.

The way this is to be understood is that these two opposites exist together in a harmonic relationship, and each carries in itself a part of the other and has the capacity to change into the other. The whole idea of Eastern dualism is concerned with harmony and balance, it is not concerned with two opposites in constant and immutable conflict with each other. The yin-yang concept permeates Eastern thought and is a graphic representation of the natural order of things. Everything is a manifestation of one force, the Tao, but for there to be a recognizable reality there needs to be distinction, thus we have the opposing elements of darkness and light, being and not being, male and female, and so on, but each of these opposites is dependent upon the other:- in the absence of something known as "darkness", there can be no "light"; each pair of opposites operates in a reciprocal way so that each of the pair gives and receives.

Quite simply, dualism in Javanese society and culture does not involve "mutually exclusive opposites"; exactly the reverse is the case:- it involves mutually reciprocal opposites, opposites which depend upon each other for their existence.

This is quite different to the concept of dualism that Guwaya has defined, and which is much more closely aligned with the Western idea of constant opposition. The Western idea is concerned with a dynamic in opposition : the Eastern idea is concerned with a dynamic in harmony.

When we understand the way in which Javanese duality needs to be approached, that is, from an Eastern, rather than a Western philosophical foundation, then there is no need to introduce this other term of "polarization", which in this context is, I must admit, a very new usage of the word for me, but which seems to try to express the Eastern understanding of duality.
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