Duality is “…an instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something; a dualism…” – Dictionary.
Plato debates in the Republic the important concept of duality (dualism). In the general context of the Platonic dialogue duality means several things:
The Material is the Physical and the Immaterial is Spiritual. Plato offers the first, oldest argument that one’s physical body and soul are separate entities and that one lives on after the other has died.
The separation between a visible world (matter) and an invisible world. In addition to our physical world which is imperfect, there is another world which is perfect. In the perfect world, there are “Forms” of everything. These are the real forms which are different from the material forms in our world. The visible world is only a reflection of the higher world of reality.
Therefore Plato asserted that the world is dual. The base world (matter) is perceived by senses while the higher world of “Forms” is perceived by the intellect. This concept in Plato’s Republic is known as the theory of The Forms.
The Irish philosopher-writer Iris Murdoch describes Plato’s duality concept in her book Metaphysics as a guide to morals. She asserts that “…we see parts of things, we intuit whole things…”.
The separation between the body and the soul. Plato believed that the soul was superior to the body. This is because the soul can remember what it once saw in the world of the Forms. The body, on the other hand, has no such capacity. Furthermore, the body, Plato asserted, negates the soul’s ability to see reality clearly. Only when the soul is free from the body it could perceive the Forms without interference.
We should also remember the various and many comparisons Plato makes in his dialogue. The just and the unjust man being only one example.
Also, read the related Blog posts as follows: Plato’s Academia, Plato and Justice, Plato’s Duality, Plato’s Imitation Theory, The Republic Lead subjects, Plato’s Regimes, Art as Imitation, Plato and Art, Dystopia Connotations, Utopia Connotations, What is Utopia, Plato’s Republic, Who was Plato, Plato’s Visual Utopia book
Featured image artwork, “Duality” – Illustration by Daniel Heller