A Conversation for Solipsism

If you think about it...

Post 1

Twenty-First Century Schizoid Man

I've thought a few times of this, everything being a figment of an imagination without ever hearing about solipsism.

If you think about it, according to the solipsist, nothing BUT them exist? Wow. How many solipsists are there, then, each thinking only they exist?

And another thing. If the solipsist thinks that everything is a figment of their imagination, did they just think up all of history? How can they ever discover anything new? Are they just some sort of resident in their own mind, which is keeping secrets from them?

And finally, boy, their mind must be UNIMAGINABLY complex. All our thoughts, imaginations, along with everything that happens ever EVER are generated by their imagination, according to the solipsist. And they don't know about EVERYTHING that happens do they? Again, is their mind keeping secrets from them?

And I had another point, but dang nabbit, I forgot it.


If you think about it...

Post 2

Martin Harper

I dunno. 6 billion people in the world, so I'd guess at least 6,000 or so solipsists. Probably more.

Yep, pretty complicated minds. Not as complicated as the universe: cos it only generates stuff you can see (everything beyond the solar system can be a piece of black paper with white points in it). Plus it doesn't need to be consistent - heck, real life isn't consistent, far from it.

And yes, a mind that keeps secrets from itself. Or rather, doesn't have perfect self-knowledge. Not that this is unique to solipsists, many people believe that, for example, you can be in love without realising it. Similarly, you can know where your keys are, but not know it.


If you think about it...

Post 3

Twenty-First Century Schizoid Man

When you say the Universe beyond the sol syst can be a black piece of of paper with white points on it, you mean FOR ALL WE KNOW, right? I mean who knows, solipsism could be right. The universe could be a water molecule in another one, or it could be a dream in the mind of a greater entity, or it could be the actual mind of one person in another place, who the heck knows. Not knowing is kinda frustrating since if you think about-I'm getting sidetracked. Anything could be right, nothing could be right, or everything could be right. No one knows and I don't think anyone in this universe ever will.


If you think about it...

Post 4

Martin Harper

Well, scientists would say that they have made experiments that show definitively that it isn't a black piece of paper, but solipsists say that the scientists are just figments of their imagination they dreamed up to keep themselves questioning... smiley - winkeye


If you think about it...

Post 5

Oengus (1+7-5)*(5+4+5)

All this talk about the universe outside of the solar system, hell, at the moment all I can see is this computer terminal so that's all that needs to exist at this moment in time. However, my beer bottle is nearly dry so my girlfriend had better damn well exist in the very near future because the fridge doesn't exist (I can't see into the kitchen from here).


If you think about it...

Post 6

Twenty-First Century Schizoid Man

Y'know, that view of the solipsit thinking only THEY exist, all of them thinking that...Kinda like the religions of the world. Each totally certain all other religions are full of poor deluded fools. Except for the few that base on harmony, like a sect of Hinduism I read about, they think all other religions are just different ways of believing in the god Vishnu, I think it was. It's all terribly complicated, world theology.


the way i see it...

Post 7

Simonus

well the way i see it is that we are all players (or one player in a world with other generated people etc) in some sort of game. in this way you cant say 'yea but other people have opinions bla bla bla' because your put into a made up world where those 'people' are programed to act as they would be in 'that particular world'...

does that make sence? oh well i am just writing it off the top of my head...

in this scenario people are either all playing a game together (see origin's 'ultima online') or we are put into a highly developed world where the other people are 'computer generated'...

well, i cant really write any more. so ill probably update this theory at some time...

have fun!


the way i see it...

Post 8

flying_green_leprachaun

read Greag Egan's "Permutation City"


the way i see it...

Post 9

Simonus

ok


If you think about it...

Post 10

Researcher 194848

The solipsist shouldn't think of anybody else as a fool because the anybody else doesn't exist.

How many solipsists?

There are only 6000 solipsists in the world if they are wrong (Lucinda's estimate). Otherwise there can only be one solipsist and that is you reading right now. Not the other 5999. If solipsism is true but you don't believe it then there are none.

A solipsist's mind need not be limited to what people think is biologically possible. It may be godlike, therefore creating a consistent and complete universe "subconsciously" is no big deal.

Although I don't believe in solipsism I think it is a plausible answer to the why of existence for agnostics like myself. smiley - smiley


If you think about it...

Post 11

Researcher 196995

First of all, no solipsist would ever ask the question, "How many solipsists are there on earth?" For, as the tenets of solipsism dictate, there is only one solipsist and that is the person who endorses the theory. But if you are not a solipsist and believe that you actually exist separate from the mind of someone else, the question is a valid one (and a fascinating one at that!). If there are ten people in a room and two claim to be solipsists, what happens? Witness the following scenario:
"You exist only in my mind."
"No, you and your solipsism exist only in mine."
"Wrong. I've engendered everything that you're thinking and saying, and you can't possibly exist separately from my mind no matter how original you think you are."

This could go on and on and on and on! Now, let us consider something else: the solipsist is necessarily agnostic, for she has, in effect, deified herself. Her mind replaces the traditional God: it is the means by which everything comes into being, it controls everything, and it can "see" (subconsciously, of course) the past, present, and future simultaneously. Let us call it the "eternal present." So is it possible for a solipsist to believe in a higher deity, a God?

This brings us to an even deeper question: what happens when the solipsist dies? The only answer I've got is that solitary solipsists cannot exist--it must be all or none. That is, we all must be solipsists (and therefore, deities of a sort) or none of us can be solipsists. (Unless, of course, the single solipsist's mind is so much greater than her body that it continues to live and sustain/engender creation after she physically dies. In this way, we figments would actually worship the departed person's mind as we now worship God. Perhaps that's what God is. The minds of departed solipsists, all merged into an all-powerful, ever-creating nebula...)

What do you think?



If you think about it...

Post 12

Martin Harper

>>> First of all, no solipsist would ever ask the question, "How many solipsists are there on earth?"

Disagree. Solipsists can perfectly well say things like "I missed the bus", without necessarilly believing in the objective existence of the bus. What they MEAN by such a sentence would be "I imagined missing the bus I imagined", or some such. Similarly a solipsist might well be curious to discover how many people-like beings they've imagined that appear to believe in the tenets of solipsism - if only to obtain greater self-knowledge.

> "This could go on and on and on and on!"

Well it could, but equally the solipsist could decide that it's silly to argue with, essentially, hirself. Sie can acknowledge the rationality of the opposing view (that sie has imagined), while still believing that it's incorrect.

-Martin


If you think about it...

Post 13

Noggin the Nog

In "strong" solipsism all that exists is the solipsist's own consciousness; if this were the case, as I've said before, nothing could be going on that the solipsist didn't EXPLICITLY know about. Even memory would be impossible; where would the memory go when you weren't thinking about it?
In "weak" solipsism where the solipsist has an "unconscious" part this part outside consciousness could fulfill all the functions of a "real" world, its objects outside our control and apparent knowledge. This would be a form, I suppose, of dualistic solipsism, or contradiction in terms.
Reality is established under what we (and I) take to be normal circumstances by linguistic conventions involving other people. Outside of this validation the term "reality" has no meaning. In questioning existence one is not saying somehing mistaken; one is not saying anything at all.
Sage


If you think about it...

Post 14

Martin Harper

It appears that your definition of strong and weak solipsism clash with mine (see the entry). Your weak solipsism corresponds roughly with what I call strong solipsism. To try and avoid confusion, I will refer to what you call "strong solipsism" as "strongest solipsism", and use "strong solipsism" to refer to my definition of the same.

Strongest solipsism is a straw man argument. I've never seen anyone argue for it. Probably because it's so easily disprovable - I merely have to try and levitate a house to discover that there exist objects outside my conscious control. So let's ignore that in favour of discussing real beliefs of real people.

Strong solipsism (what you call "weak solipsism") isn't really Dualistic with a capital 'D', but certainly contains the idea that there are varying levels of self-knowledge and self-control. It's not a contradiction in terms though: solipsism comes from solus=alone, not from 'single'. Dualistic monism would be a contradiction in terms (as would monistic dualism).

-Xanthia


If you think about it...

Post 15

Noggin the Nog

Aah, right (reading hastily through original entry).... what you're calling weak solipsism is what was known in my young days as "The Problem of Other Minds". The most common refutations of this form of solipsism nowadays are, as I more or less suggested, based on Wittgenstein's "Private Language" argument.I cannot have a meaningful private language for my inner sensations because I have to learn it from others behaviour, including linguistic behaviour. The very concept of consciousness is socially acquired and validated, and therefore weak solipsism is unintelligible.
Sage


If you think about it...

Post 16

Martin Harper

If I read you right, that would mean that consciousness is a socially constructed concept, rather than one with any absolute reality?


If you think about it...

Post 17

Noggin the Nog

I don't think it's an either/or; I'm pretty sure a dog, for instance, has consciousness; I'm also pretty sure it has no concept of consciousness. Consciousness is a natural property of brains/animals, including humans, but the concept is mediated by language (any particular language being a social construct), so the way we use language to define and describe consciousness must be a social construct, too.


If you think about it...

Post 18

AK - fancy that!

Whether or not anyone noticed, there is an example of a solipsist. In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Chapter 29, I believe. Its the guy who rules the universe, that Zarniwoop wanted to find. He's a solipsist.


If you think about it...

Post 19

Twenty-First Century Schizoid Man

Ah yes, but is solipsism the belief or the fact? I would say that he was a REVERSE solipsist-he did not know that he controlled the universe, but he did, which I find is the OPPOSITE of solipsism-believing, but not actually imagining the universe. Dig?


If you think about it...

Post 20

AK - fancy that!

Perhaps he's a half-solipsist...He believes that he exists, though he isn't sure if his memories and past really happened or not, and he isn't sure about everything else. He sees no reason to believe that something that seems real actually exists but that's not the same thing as believing that everything isn't real.


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