Saturday, July 21, 2012

Solipsism: do others exist in your mind only?



Solipsism is one of the most interesting theories of mind. Why? I’ll tell you how solipsists define solipsism. Get ready, solipsism definition is as follows: one’s own mind is all that can be known to exist. But what does solipsism really mean? Not only solipsists and philosophers in general know the meaning of solipsism – also average people like you and me have probably experienced solipsism as a child (infant solipsism). Solipsism is so convincing that there is even a solipsism syndrome – therefore you could actually suffer from solipsism. If you’re not afraid to start doubting in others’ existence, continue reading…

Think about your childhood. What’s your first memory? Most people can trace their memories back to the time they were about 3 or 4 years old. You probably can’t remember from your own experience what had happened before your 3rd birthday or even if you are it’s almost impossible to have any memories before 2nd birthday. How can you know what had happened before then?

Probably your parents told you that. But how can you know that your parents even exist? How can you know that you were born at all? Maybe it’s just a figment of your imagination? Solipsists claim that the only thing you can be sure about is your own mind. Therefore you cannot know that the outer world exists. There’s a possibility that you simply created the world you know and it exists in your inner mind only. Maybe I’m not the author of this blog and you simply created impression of someone else writing the Mind and Philosophy blog? I don’t know if you experienced this sort of thinking but I remember that I wondered about such a possibility when I was a child even without any philosophical knowledge. This is called infant solipsism and most of us (probably you as well) reject this way of thinking already in your childhood – some of us don’t even remember that we thought this way as children. However, there are some philosophers who do not reject this point of view and claim that they can’t know if outer world exists or not. And there are even some philosophers who believe in metaphysical solipsism claiming that the self is the only real and independent reality.
Gorgias of Leontini
(c. 485 - c. 380 BC)

So let’s sum up the main ideas of solipsism. I’m presenting you with arguments of Gorgias of Leontini who is considered to be the father of solipsism.
  1. Nothing exists
  2. Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it
  3. Even if something can be known about it, knowledge about it can't be communicated to others
  4. Even if it can be communicated, it cannot be understood
Since it’s so difficult to prove these statements wrong most people reject them only because they feel they’re wrong (too learn more about perception of good and evil see the post about innatism); however, they still aren’t able to give any reason for rejecting solipsism. Probably you won’t be surprised that people who live in isolation for an extended period of time often question the reality of external world; sooner or later they will probably suffer from what is called solipsism syndrome (similar to depersonalization disorder); they will start believing that the world is nothing more than their minds’ creation… Isn't it frightening?

Do you remember experiencing infant solipsism?



30 comments:

  1. Something similar i came across.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/World-is-a-Lie

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  2. Thanks for the information. If you are interested in the reality vs. illusion topic, you may want to read the new post about dreams (http://mindandphilosophy.blogspot.com/2013/05/meaning-of-dreams-in-philosophy-is.html).

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  3. I believe solipsism can be defeated once you accept the premise and start asking questions from there. You'll find that it solipsism makes no sense when you start asking WHY the world is the way it appears, leading you to eventually conclude - if nothing else - that you're receiving sensory input from some place other than yourself. Check out my blog for the full argument...
    http://theoryparker.blogspot.com/2013/08/solipsism-finally-defeated.html

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    Replies
    1. how can I be sure I didn't write that article?

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    2. And how can I be sure I didn't write that comment?

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    3. But! Theorise this for me! What if our whole life is a figment of our imagination based on the history of ourselves in our last living thoughts looking back on our life or we were put in a machine at some point in our 'real' life just to imagine our own life as we desire it to be and when we wake up we realise that's not the life we wanted so we can go back in the machine and make another life creating a new life or universe or if you will, the afterlife?

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    4. If I can believe that the universe as I have been lead to believe can only be perceived though information that my brain must first process and shape in order to create all senses, it can not be to far to suggest that my brain creates the informational input itself. Nor can this be tested for. If the brain itself were a series of informational data; generating its own perceivable data in order to construct a world around one single consciousness, therefore creating various different stimuli such as touch, smell and sight. The data would construct memories and a varied series of consciousness at different levels each, this data could suspend itself in one consistent moment. Time then essentially frozen for this conciousness, the lone consciousness that we can be sure of. In what sense can we be sure that time is a true concept, our entire consciousness could be one instant moment in which we begin, exist infinitely and end, one moment we can be sure of is the micro--nano second that our conciousness processes at this exact time. How are we sure that this isn't the only moment to have ever existed and that our collective memory. Our memory; a selection of information formed in our consciousness, how can we be sure this actually happened and that our consciousness hasn't just decided to fabricate the correct data for us to remember each second as it becomes the past. How can you know that you actually read a single word of this excluding this one? Our consciousness could create each word before in exact moment to inform you of what it thinks is being said. In the same sense how can you be sure what I wrote is what you are reading, your consciousness could alter what you pensive it as meaning, from what was actually meant, this in a continuous loop between consciousnesses would isolate different consciousnesses as information from one to a second would be received as different, for example: conscious 1 says " the wall is blue" and it see's the wall as blue in every perceivable way, conscious 2 hears what 1 says however the information is perceived as conscious 1 saying "the wall is red" ,conscious 2 looks at the wall and perceives it as red, then replying "yes, the wall is red" to conscious 1. conscious 1 in return hears this but perceives it as conscious 2 saying "yes, the wall is blue". thus through differences in perception both consciousnesses believe that they are seeing and hearing the same thing, however neither are, nor can they ever make each other aware of this or in fact themselves become aware that they are seeing and hearing different things.
      Overall there truly is no way whatsoever of being sure that you are not a single consciousness, without a body, brain or manoeuvrability existing purely within your own construct.

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    5. you have to work with reality; yes, it is making something out of nothing but it can be very enjoyable to lie to yourself. after all, that's why you created all of this, to keep from being lonely. work with it

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  4. Are we even sure that this is our own mind and not one of others who have implanted theirs as ours? No, we are not but we could also be sure. I know and at the same time I do not know whether or not everything is real but if solipsism is real then we should take advantage of it and create whatever this is into whatever "we" want. If not we should still do the same. Either way we are one.

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  5. You can say "I am the only one who exists in the world" and you can also say "I am the only one who exists in my world". The first one is solipsism and it is wrong, but what about the second? Can you be the best you can be if you considerate that you are the only one who matters? Or will it also be solipsism?

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  6. in brief, solipsism is the theory that everything exists in your head. So when people hallucinate and they can: see, touch, feel and hear someone/something, who's to say that its not real? Because to them, its just as real as everything else is. So maybe all that is happening is, they are opening their minds and gaining the brief ability to change their own reality. Is that what hallucinogenic drugs do? perhaps??

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  7. If I may, on Leotini, the first statement itself is false. Nothing, itself, is something, therefore the theory is flawed. Just thinking about nothing puts action towards the abstract nothing thus nothing from something exists as itself.
    Solipsism is just a way for an entity to justify what it views as reality to be right, totally cutting out any other entities worth or perception.

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    1. The argument you pose in my humble opinion is incorrect. Nothing is not something, the mental concept of nothing is something. In the absence of something (if we assume we cannot prove it) nothing exists. That can be taken i both grammatical forms. Does santa exist? Just because you put forward Santa it does not mean it exists, or rather cannot be proven. In that same sense you could be a santa. Lol

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  8. I have this. Someone help me. I'm alone....

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  9. Very short article and somewhat shallow.

    Solipsism is not simply a syndrome, and although it can be taken to be just a philosophy in its practical usage it annihilates illusion. It eventually leads to realizing that nothing can be known, other then existence existing. It enables one to tear out all the mental concepts as illusions. Most of the replys here are assuming a person exists and point to an outer something to argue against solipsism but that falls short of the understanding at hand. "How can you be sure you dont.." etc are mental misunderstandings, solipsism does not pose uncertainty as in how can I know I am typing, it points agnosticm as in how do I know that I know, or that I exist am real etc.

    If you really wanna play, rather then just argue for impression's sake, begin from seeing if the mental concepts you have of the world, earth, being human, can be proven. Not because they exist but because it would be impossible to prove them, because the only tool you have (thought) could be just an imagination. Jiddu Krisnamurti argued all the time with others about the non-existence of mind, stating that he could not see such a thing (santa). Plato's cave comes to mind and so on. Masturbating to philosophy is fun, but its when you get f.... that the adventure begins.

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  10. You do realize the fact that if Gorgias of Leontini had never lived, solipsism would never have seen the light of day? This itself kinda disproves solipsism. The only reason the idea of solipsism exists in this world is because Gorgias of Leontini invented it. He must surely have believed in the idea whole heartedly, but his idea doesn't really hold up if you consider it from this viewpoint. Also, imagine 10 solipsists meet. Everyone of them considers himself/herself to be the only existent mind in the universe. Who is right? Probably none of them. While this isn't really any philosophical proof I'm offering you, it is a way to determine somewhat instinctively and somewhat logically that it's probably not true. If it were true, it would be so cunningly crafted nothing would make sense anymore. Your own existence could be a deception!

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  11. I don't believe in Solipsism because I'd have a lot more cool stuff if I were the only thing that was real. I mean , i'd be driving a lambo in my own little world, be a god, yeah.. it would be lonely but you could have fun with it.

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  12. I don't believe in Solipsism because I'd have a lot more cool stuff if I were the only thing that was real. I mean , i'd be driving a lambo in my own little world, be a god, yeah.. it would be lonely but you could have fun with it.

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  13. I have always been a faithful Catholic but I have to say when I was younger, my instincts strongly suggested Solipsism before I knew what it was. I scared one guy by asking, "What if you were the only real person and everyone else and everything else was a hologram?"

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  14. Our whole life takes place in a limited globe of light with no movement, no things all is illusion just like our dreams.

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    Replies
    1. If all this is true then I have written all these messages!

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  15. Solipsism has absolutely nothing to do with the practise of Philosophy.
    It is sheer Sophistry, to say the very least - in fact it is a lot worse than that and has been extensively propagated within the New Age to further a poisonous version of "spiritual enlightening". It boggles my mind to see that people confuse & connect this nonsense/trifle/shit with Platos work or similar material.
    For anybody interested, here is a short write up by Robert G. Brown - even though I do not personally find his material to be entirely consistent, it still gives a good overview:
    https://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Philosophy/axioms/axioms/node43.html

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  16. Don't think I've experienced solipsism as a child, but I can remember that I questioned life itself a lot.

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  17. Basic question that will reject this shit !
    Is it your mind or mine ? ��

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