pluralism, in philosophy, theory that considers the universe explicable in terms of many principles or composed of many ultimate substances. It describes no particular system and may be embodied in such opposed philosophical concepts as materialism and idealism. Empedocles, G. W. von Leibniz, William James, and Bertrand Russell are among the philosophers generally considered as pluralistic. See also monism and dualism.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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