duality


duality
  ---- by Ashley Woodward
  Duality is one of Baudrillard's most central ideas, with which many of his other concepts and contentions have an integral relation: reversibility is an applied form of duality (PW), seduction is always a dual relation (BL), duality governs the principle of evil (LP), in impossible exchange duality replaces exchange (PW), thought is in a dual relation to the world (PW), and so on. According to Baudrillard, 'everything is in the play of duality' (IEx, 90). Duality is a fundamental metaphysical principle which governs the operation of the world. He develops this principle in contrast to the metaphysical principle of unity, which, he contends, has been dominant in the history of religious and philosophical thought and continues to pervade thought today. The principle of unity asserts that everything is fundamentally reducible to the One. Systems of thought predicated on unity frequently involve dualisms or theories of the Many, but all varieties are, in the end, reducible to a single principle.
  Baudrillard contends that most 'dualisms' evident in modern thought rest on a principle of unity insofar as the two terms posited are opposed to each other and exist in a dialectical relation. That is, they are subject to reconciliation in a higher synthesis. Typically, one of the two terms is given a metaphysical and moral privilege and subordinates the opposed term to itself: although two terms are posited, one embodies the unitary principle into which the other is ultimately incorporated. According to Baudrillard, this dialectical, oppositional relation is in fact what governs most contemporary philosophies of otherness and difference. Duality, however, posits terms which are in a relation of radical otherness: they do not share any commonality which would allow them to be initially opposed or subsequently reconciled. Nevertheless, the two terms exist in a dynamic, antagonistic relation, and take part in a shared destiny.
  Baudrillard frequently develops these ideas through the metaphysical and moral duality of Good and Evil. In most traditional forms of philosophy and theology, Good is posited as the single, fundamental principle of reality, while Evil is given a subordinate position in dialectical relation to Good. Typically, the world is posited as originally existing as a unified whole governed by the principle of Good, before Evil erupts. Evil retains a subordinate role and will eventually be subsumed back into the unity of Good. Baudrillard defends an alternative, dualistic hypothesis: Good and Evil are primordial and immortal principles which will always exist in an antagonistic relation. He points to examples of this dualistic hypothesis in certain minor religions - in particular Manichaeism - which have typically been persecuted as heretical. Paradoxically, he insists on the one hand that neither Good nor Evil should be thought as primary; rather, it is duality itself which is primary. On the other hand, he states that the principle of duality is itself Evil (since Good predicates itself on unity).
  Baudrillard offers at least two arguments for why we should think that duality, rather than unity, is the more fundamental metaphysical principle. First, only duality can explain the genesis and transformation of living things and the existence of variety in the world. He argues as follows:
  By definition, the One is One, and can only repeat itself to infinity. But by what strange combination, then, does life transform itself? Why would it chose to differentiate itself, metamorphose and die, rather than persevere in its being by irrepressible totalization? . . . If you assume a single term at the outset, it is not clear what would interrupt its running on in perpetuity. (IEx, 99) Second, only duality can explain the existence of chance and uncertainty in the world. He contends that 'if the world were not the inextricable manifestation of two opposing principles . . . we would have only absolute certainties' (IEx, 100).
  Duality is the basic form of relation underlying Baudrillard's attempts to theorise alternatives to capitalist and semiotic exchange, such as symbolic exchangeandseduction.Whiletermsinexchangeareequivalent,substitutable and governed by a basic law, terms in a dual relation are asymmetrical, reversibleandengagedinagameofchallengeandone-upmanshipgoverned by arbitrary but reciprocally binding rules. Duality involves an essentially antagonistic relation, to which Baudrillard alludes by playing on the ambiguity inherent in the French term duel, which means both 'dual' and 'duel'. While exchange operates in the rational universe, in which everything is comprehended and homogenised, duality governs the symbolic universe of dynamic relations where radical otherness inevitably persists.
  Passwords
   § evil
   § impossible exchange
   § Manichaeism
   § metaphysics
   § reversibility
   § seduction

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.

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