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Solipsism is the philosophical idea that one's own mind is all that exists. Solipsism is an epistemological or ontological position that knowledge of anything outside one's own specific mind is unjustified. The external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist. In the history of philosophy, solipsism has served as a skeptical hypothesis.

Contents

Explanation

Denial of materialistic existence, in itself, does not constitute solipsism. Possibly the most controversial feature of the solipsistic worldview is the denial of the existence of other minds. Since qualia, or personal experiences, are private and ineffable, another being's experience can be known only by analogy.

Philosophers try to build knowledge on more than an inference or analogy. The failure of Descartes' epistemological enterprise brought to popularity the idea that all certain knowledge may end at "I am thinking; therefore I exist" (cogito ergo sum).[1]

The theory of solipsism also merits close examination because it relates to three widely held philosophical presuppositions, which are themselves fundamental and wide-ranging in importance. These are that:

  1. My most certain knowledge is the content of my own mind—my thoughts, experiences, affects, etc.;
  2. There is no conceptual or logically necessary link between mental and physical—between, say, the occurrence of certain conscious experience or mental states and the 'possession' and behavioral dispositions of a 'body' of a particular kind (see the brain in a vat); and
  3. The experience of a given person is necessarily private to that person.

Solipsism is not a single concept but instead refers to several worldviews whose common element is some form of denial of the existence of a universe independent from the mind of the agent.

History

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Gorgias (of Leontini)

Solipsism is first recorded with the Greek presocratic sophist, Gorgias (c. 483375 BC) who is quoted by the Roman skeptic Sextus Empiricus as having stated:

  1. Nothing exists;
  2. Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it; and
  3. Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it can't be communicated to others.

Much of the point of the Sophists was to show that "objective" knowledge was a literal impossibility. (See also comments credited to Protagoras of Abdera). The influence of the Sophists has been severely downplayed; however, modern linguistic philosophy clearly seems to have its roots in the teachings of the Sophists.[citation needed]

Descartes

René Descartes. Portrait by Frans Hals, 1648.

The foundations of solipsism are in turn the foundations of the view that the individual's understanding of any and all psychological concepts (thinking, willing, perceiving, etc.) is accomplished by making analogy with his or her own mental states; i.e., by abstraction from inner experience. And this view, or some variant of it, has been influential in philosophy since Descartes elevated the search for incontrovertible certainty to the status of the primary goal of epistemology, whilst also elevating epistemology to "first philosophy".

Varieties

Metaphysical solipsism

Metaphysical solipsism is the variety of idealism which maintains that the individual self of the solipsistic philosopher is the whole of reality and that the external world and other persons are representations of that self having no independent existence.

Epistemological solipsism

Epistemological solipsism is the variety of idealism according to which only the directly accessible mental contents of the solipsistic philosopher can be known. According to this view, it is possible that an external world exists, or that only the self exists, but impossible to prove either way.

Methodological solipsism

Methodological solipsism is the epistemological thesis that the individual self and its states are the sole possible or proper starting point for philosophical construction (Wood, 295). The methodological solipsist does not intend to conclude that one of the stronger forms of solipsism is true, but rather believes that all other truths must be founded on indisputable facts about his own consciousness. A skeptical turn along these lines is cartesian skepticism.

Psychology and psychiatry

Philosophical solipsism as pathological

Solipsism is often introduced (for example "Philosophy made simple", by Popkin and Stroll) as a bankrupt philosophy, or at best bizarre and unlikely. Alternatively, the philosophy is introduced in the context of relating it to pathological psychological conditions.

Solipsism syndrome

Solipsism syndrome is a dissociative mental state.[citation needed] It is only incidentally related to philosophical solipsism. Solipsists assert that the lack of ability to prove the existence of other minds does not, in itself, cause the psychiatric condition of detachment from reality. The feeling of detachment from reality is unaffected by the answer to the question of whether the common-sense universe exists or not.[citation needed]

Infant solipsism

Developmental psychologists commonly believe that infants are solipsist,[2] and that eventually children infer that others have experiences much like theirs and reject solipsism (see Infant metaphysics).

Consequences

To discuss consequences clearly, an alternative is required: solipsism as opposed to what? Solipsism is opposed to all forms of realism and many forms of idealism (insofar as they claim that there is something outside the idealist's mind, which is itself another mind, or mental in nature). Realism in a minimal sense, that there is an external universe is most likely not observationally distinct from solipsism. The objections to solipsism therefore have a theoretical rather than an empirical thrust.

Solipsists may view their own pro-social behaviors as having a more solid foundation than the incoherent pro-sociality of other philosophies. Indeed, they may be more pro-social because they view other individuals as actually being a part of themselves. Furthermore, the joy and suffering arising from empathy is just as real as the joy and suffering arising from physical sensation. They view their own existence as human beings to be just as speculative as the existence of anyone else as a human being. Epistimological solipsists may argue that these philosophical distinctions are irrelevant since the professed pro-social knowledge of others is an illusion.

The British philosopher Alan Watts wrote extensively about this subject.

Last surviving soul

Would the last person left alive be a solipsist? Not necessarily, because for the solipsist, it is not merely the case that they believe that their thoughts, experiences, and emotions are, as a matter of contingent fact, the only ones that can exist. Rather, the solipsist can attach no meaning to the supposition that there could be thoughts, experiences, and emotions other than their own—that events may occur or objects or people exist independently of the solipsist's own experiences. In short, the metaphysical solipsist understands the word "pain" [i.e., someone else's], for example, to mean "one's own pain"—but this word cannot accordingly be construed to apply in any sense other than this exclusively egocentric, non-empathetic one.[citation needed]

Relation to other ideas

Idealism and materialism

One of the most fundamental debates in philosophy concerns the "true" nature of the world—whether it is some ethereal plane of ideas, or a reality of atoms and energy. Materialism[3] posits a separate 'world out there' that can be touched and felt, with the separate individual's physical and mental experiences reducible to the collisions of atoms and the interactions of firing neurons. The only thing that dreams and hallucinations prove are that some neurons can misfire and malfunction, but there is no fundamental reality behind an idea except as a brain-state. Idealists,[4] on the other hand, believe that the mind and its thoughts are the only true things that exist. This doctrine is often called Platonism[5] after its most famous proponent. The material world is ephemeral, but a perfect triangle or "love" is eternal. Religious thinking tends to be some form of idealism, as God usually becomes the highest ideal (such as Neoplatonism).[3][6][7] On this scale, solipsism can be classed as idealism, specifically subjective idealism. Thoughts and concepts are all that exist, and furthermore, only 'my' thoughts and consciousness exist. The so-called "reality" is nothing more than an idea that the solipsist has (perhaps unconsciously) created.

Cartesian dualism

There is another option: the belief that both ideals and "reality" exist. Dualists commonly argue that the distinction between the mind (or 'ideas') and matter can be proven by employing Leibniz' principle of the identity of indiscernibles. This states that two things are identical if, and only if, they share exactly the same qualities, that is, are indistinguishable from each other. Dualists then attempt to identify attributes of mind that are lacked by matter (such as privacy or intentionality) or vice versa (such as having a certain temperature or electrical charge).[8][9] One notable application of the identity of indiscernibles was by René Descartes in his Meditations on First Philosophy. Descartes concluded that he could not doubt the existence of himself (the famous cogito ergo sum argument), but that he could doubt the (separate) existence of his body. From this he inferred that the person Descartes must not be identical to the Descartes body, since one possessed a characteristic that the other did not: namely, it could be known to exist. Solipsism agrees with Descartes in this aspect, and goes further: only things that can be known to exist for sure should be considered to exist. The Descartes body could only exist as an idea in the mind of the person Descartes[10][11] Descartes and dualism aim to prove the actual existence of reality as opposed to a phantom existence (as well as the existence of God in Descartes' case), using the realm of ideas merely as a starting point, but solipsism usually finds those further arguments unconvincing. The solipsist instead proposes that his/her own unconscious is the author of all seemingly "external" events from "reality".

Philosophy of Schopenhauer

The World as Will and Representation is the central work of Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer saw the human will as our one window to the world behind the representation, the Kantian thing-in-itself. He believed, therefore, that we could gain knowledge about the thing-in-itself, something Kant said was impossible, since the rest of the relationship between representation and thing-in-itself could be understood by analogy to the relationship between human will and human body.

Radical empiricism

The idealist philosopher George Berkeley argued that physical objects do not exist independently of the mind that perceives them. An item truly exists only so long as it is observed; otherwise, it is not only meaningless, but simply nonexistent. The observer and the observed are one. Berkeley does attempt to show things can and do exist apart from the human mind and our perception, but only because there is an all-encompassing Mind in which all "ideas" are perceived – in other words, God, who observes all. Solipsism agrees that nothing exists outside of perception, but would argue that Berkeley falls prey to the egocentric predicament – he can only make his own observations, and can't be truly sure that this God or other people exist to observe "reality". The solipsist would say it is better to disregard the unreliable observations of alleged other people and rely upon the immediate certainty of one's own perceptions.[12]

Rationalism

Rationalism is the philosophical position that truth is best discovered by the use of reasoning and logic rather than by the use of the senses (see Plato's theory of Forms). Solipsism, which holds a similar distrust for sense-data, is thus related to rationalism, and in fact may be seen as a form of extreme rationalism.

Philosophical zombie

The theory of solipsism crosses over with the theory of the philosophical zombie in that all other seemingly conscious beings actually lack true consciousness, instead they only display traits of consciousness to the observer, who is the only conscious being there is.

Falsifiability

Solipsism is not a falsifiable hypothesis in the sense of Karl Popper or Imre Lakatos, except insofar as a particular solipsism can be internally inconsistent. For epistemological solipsists, they will continue to only have their own impressions to rely on, and any new evidence would be filtered through their own senses. For metaphysical solipsists, even the seeming death of a solipsist and the world failing to end is not a disproof; it is possible that the solipsist has simply dreamed his own death and will now dream the continuation of the world.[citation needed]

A weak form of epistemological solipsism states that the agent has no proof of anything beyond the senses. This can be raw observation, at the level of "I see red", "I am not aware of a proof". A stronger form states "No proof exists"; this is falsifiable in as far as anything is. In order to falsify it, a proof must be provided.

The method of the typical scientist is materialist: assuming that the external world exists and can be known. But the scientific method, in the sense of a predict-observe-modify loop, does not require the assumption of an external world. In common terms, a person may perform a psychological test on themselves, without any assumption of an external world. The solipsistic scientist performs experiments to determine the relation between observations, without any presumption that these observations come from a source outside the mind of the solipsist. However, this account needs to be extended to include the co-operative and communitarian nature of science.

Minimalism

Solipsism is a form of logical minimalism. Many people are intuitively unconvinced of the nonexistence of the external world from the basic arguments of solipsism, but a solid proof of its existence is not available at present. The central assertion of solipsism rests on the nonexistence of such a proof, and strong solipsism (as opposed to weak solipsism) asserts that no such proof can be made. In this sense, solipsism is logically related to agnosticism in religion: the distinction between believing you do not know, and believing you could not have known.

However, minimality (or parsimony) is not the only logical virtue. A common misapprehension of Occam's Razor has it that the simpler theory is always the best. In fact, the principle is that the simpler of two theories of equal explanatory power is to be preferred. In other words: additional "entities" can pay their way with enhanced explanatory power. So the realist can claim that, while his world view is more complex, it is more satisfying as an explanation.

Pantheism

While solipsism is not generally compatible with traditional views of God, it is somewhat related to Pantheism, the belief that everything is God and part of God. The difference is usually a matter of focus. The pantheist would tend to identify their self as being a part of everything in reality, which is actually all God beneath the surface. For instance, many ancient Indian philosophies advocate the notion that all matter (and thus humans) is subtly interconnected with not only one's immediate surroundings, but with everything in the universe. They claim that the perception of absolutely-independent beings and things is an illusion that leads to confusion and dissatisfaction - Samsara. The solipsist, however, would be more likely to put him- or herself in the center, as the only item of reality, with all other beings in reality illusions. It could be said to be another naming dispute; "The Universe" / "God" for the pantheist is "My Unconscious Mind" / "Me" for the solipsist.

Eastern philosophies

Some solipsists believe that some tenets of eastern philosophies are similar to solipsism. Taoism[citation needed] and several interpretations of Buddhism, especially Zen, teach that the distinction between self and universe is arbitrary, merely a habit of perception and an artifact of language. This view identifies the unity of self and universe as the ultimate reality. Zen holds that each individual has 'Buddha Mind': an all-pervading awareness that fills their entire existence, including the 'external' world. This need not imply that one's mind is all that exists, as with solipsism, but rather that the external universe is experienced through the mind of the individual.[citation needed]

Hinduism

Advaita Vedanta

Advaita is one of the six most-known Hindu philosophical systems, and literally means "non-duality." Its first great consolidator was Adi Shankaracharya, who continued the work of some of the Upanishadic teachers, and that of his teacher's teacher Gaudapada. By analyzing the three states of experience—waking, dreaming, and deep sleep—he established the singular reality of Brahman, in which Brahman, the universe and Atman, the self are one and the same.

In the Hindu model, the ultimate all-inclusive reality, Brahman, plays a game of hide and seek with itself. In this game, called Lila, Brahman plays with individual people, birds, rocks, and other features of the world both separately and together, while forgetting that the game is being played. At the end of each session, Brahman is said to wake up, cease the game, applaud itself, and resume the game all over again. The state of wakefulness and enlightenment is knowing one is simply playing a game; one is simply acting as a human being, having an illusion of being locked within a physical body and separated from the whole of the cosmos.

One who sees everything as nothing but the Self, and the Self in everything one sees, such a seer withdraws from nothing.

For the enlightened, all that exists is nothing but the Self, so how could any suffering or delusion continue for those who know this oneness?

Ishopanishad: sloka 6, 7

The philosophy of Vedanta, "Aham Brahmasmi" (roughly translated as "I am the Absolute Truth"), could be interpreted as solipsism in one of its primitive senses, as the world is but an illusion in the mind of the observer. However, Advaita Vedanta can be understood to be non-solipsistic when it is recognised that it does not actually deny the existence of a world 'external' to the Self or Atman. Rather, it is asserting that the consciousness and awareness of the individual pervades all of that person's experience, to such an extent that absolute notions of 'inside' and 'outside' are arbitrary. The universe is the same as the self, as the universe can only be experienced through the self and the self is submerged within the universe as an integrated part[citation needed].

However, Advaita is strongly divergent from solipsism in that the former is a system of exploration of one's mind in order to finally understand the nature of the self and attain complete knowledge. The unity of existence is said to be directly experienced and understood at the end as a part of complete knowledge. On the other hand solipsism posits the non-existence of the external void right at the beginning, and says that no further inquiry is possible.[citation needed]

Yoga

Yogic practices are sometimes seen to align closely with the Sankhya philosophy, which is an Eastern dualistic system (somewhat distinct from Western dualism) postulating only the existence of mind, and of matter. However, one sometimes sees it explained that, while matter exists for us in the world of Maya (illusion), it is ultimately a product of mind, and is encompassed thereby.

Buddhism

The Buddha stated, "Within this fathom long body is the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world and the path leading to the cessation of the world."[citation needed] Whilst not rejecting the occurrence of external phenomena, the Buddha focused on the illusion created within the mind of the perceiver by the process of ascribing permanence to impermanent phenomena, satisfaction to unsatisfying experiences, and a sense of reality to things that were effectively insubstantial.

Mahayana Buddhism also challenged as illusion the idea that one can experience an 'objective' reality independent of individual perceiving minds.

According to the Sutra Prasangika view, external objects do exist, just not inherently: "Just as objects of mind do not exist [inherently], mind also does not exist [inherently]."[13] In other words, even though a chair may physically exist, individuals can only ever experience it through the medium of each their own mind, with each their own literal point-of-view. Therefore, an independent purely 'objective' reality could never be experienced.

Some later representatives of one Yogacara subschool (Prajnakaragupta, Ratnakirti) were proponents of extreme illusionism and solipsism (as well as of solipsism of this moment). The best example of such extreme ideas was the treatise of Ratnakirti (XI century) "Refutation of the existence of other minds" (Santanantara dusana).

Note: It is important to note that all mentioned Yogacara trends are not purely philosophical but religious–philosophical. All Yogacara discourse takes place within the religious and doctrinal dimension of Buddhism. It is also determined by the fundamental Buddhist problem, that is living being and its liberation from the bondage of Samsara.

Responses

There are a number of critiques of and responses to solipsism.

Death

The person dies, but the solipsist himself or herself is not dead. If somebody else dies, the supposed being who has supposedly "died" is only a phantom of the solipsist's imagination anyway, and the elimination of that phantom proves nothing. A critic would point out that many (self-proclaimed) solipsists have died in the history of the world, and the universe hasn't disappeared yet. However, the solipsist would respond that he or she has not died, and therefore his or her solipsism is not yet disproved. He or she never believed in the existence of those other solipsists in the first place.

Applicability of the past

The fact that an individual may find a statement such as "I think, therefore I am" applicable to them, yet not originating in their mind indicates that others have had a comparable degree of insight into their own mental processes, and that these are similar enough to the subject's. Further, existence in complete unity with reality means that learning is impossible—one would have to have awareness of all things. The metaphysical solipsist would respond that, much like other people are products of his own mind, so, too, is "the past" and its attendant information. Thus, "I think, therefore I am" would indeed have originated in their mind.

Life is imperfect

Why would a solipsist create things such as pain and loss for himself or herself? More generally, it might be asked "If the world is completely in my head, how come I don't live the most fantastic life imaginable?" One response would be to simply plead ignorance and note that there may be some reason which was forgotten on purpose. Another response is that categories such as 'pain' are perceptions assumed with all of the other socio-cultural human values that the solipsist has created for himself—a package deal, so to speak. More creatively, perhaps this is all out of a desire to avoid being bored, or perhaps even that the solipsist is in fact living the most perfect life he or she could imagine. This issue is somewhat related to theodicy, the "problem of evil", except that the solipsist himself is the all-powerful God who has somehow allowed imperfection into his world. A solipsist may also counter that since he never made himself he never had a choice in the way his mind operates and appears to have only limited control over how his experiences evolve. He could also conclude that the world of his own mind's creation is the exact total of all his desires, conscious and otherwise and that each moment is always perfect in the sense that it would not be other than as his own mind in total had made.[12]

The imperfection of life can also be explained through the beliefs of the pseudo-philosophy lachrymology, i.e. that only through pain, both physical and emotional, can one move to a higher state of existence. Thus, it could be theorized that the imperfect present for a solipsist is the direct result of his subconscious compulsion to experience perfection.

A variant of this problem questions the existence of other people's skills the solipsists lacks. If the solipsist created a famous poet in his mind, why doesn't the solipsist have the capacity to imitate their skill? Similar to pain, there is some reason that the solipsist has denied himself this ability, but it may not be knowable or explainable.

The claim that the solipsist's mind is the only thing with certain existence for him (epistemological solipsism) does not inherently address the question of control over the content of that mind. Outside solipsism, a person may know that a phobia is all in the mind but be completely unable to prevent it ruining their life. (Conversely, it is not illogical for a powerful being—a god, for example—to have complete control over the universe, despite it being external to said powerful being.) Solipsism asserts that the mind of the agent is the only thing with assured existence; it need not assert any specific structure to that mind—any more or less than materialism—in and of itself, and requires a specific cosmology. However, any convincing philosophy needs to cohere with what is observed, and metaphysical solipsism needs to credit certain mental contents with the same stubborn indifference to human wishes that material objects display in other philosophies.

Solipsism undercuts morality

If solipsism is true, then practically all standards for moral behavior would seem to be meaningless. According to this argument there is no "creator", no deity, so that an external, "objective" basis for morality is gone. Other forms of morality that do not rely on the existence of an infallible deity, such as secular humanism, also become meaningless because there are no such things as other humans. Everything and everyone else is just a figment of imagination, so there's no particular reason not to make these figments disappear by, say, mass annihilation. The problem with this argument is that it falls prey to the Appeal to Consequences Fallacy; if solipsism is true, then it doesn't matter that it has unfortunate implications. This can possibly be countered by people who believe that (a non-solipsist) morality is an inherent part of the universe that can be proven to exist.

A solipsist may also understand that everything being a part of himself would also mean that harming anything would be harming himself with associated negative consequences such as pain (although the solipsist must be harming himself already, since "life is imperfect"). Or an exponent of a weak form of solipsism might say that harming others is imprudent because the solipsist can only be uncertain of their real existence rather than certain of their non-existence. Another expression of this point is in noting the strong feelings that a human can have for a non-existent character in a movie, or for a car or boat which is admitted to be completely non sentient. There is no logical or psychological reason to prevent a solipsist caring for observed people, even if the solipsist is completely convinced of their non-existence.

The solipsist needs a language

The practical solipsist needs a language to formulate his or her thoughts about solipsism. Language is an essential tool to communicate with other minds. Why does a solipsist universe need a language? Indeed, one might even say, solipsism is necessarily incoherent, a self-refuting idea, for to make an appeal to logical rules or empirical evidence the solipsist would implicitly have to affirm the very thing in which he or she purportedly refuses to believe: the 'reality' of intersubjectively valid criteria, and/or of a public, extra-mental world.[14] A possible response would be that to keep from becoming bored, perhaps the solipsist imagines "other" minds, which would actually be only elements of his own mind. He or she has chosen to forget control of these minds for the time being, and the elaborate languages required for interaction with these more isolated segments of his mind are merely part of the creation of "reality." As for the rules of logic, they are probably merely an artifact of the peculiar psychology of the solipsist and only appear to exist in the "real" world. (However, to argue this way is to admit that solipsism needs to be buttressed with additional, ad-hoc hypotheses).

One famous argument along these lines is the private language argument of Wittgenstein. In brief, this states that since language is for communication, and communication requires two participants, the existence of language in the mind of the thinker means the existence of another mind to communicate with. There is a direct fallacy in this: either, language is for communication between two agents, in which case it is still to be proved that what is in the head of the agent is a language; in which case it is yet to be proved that language is for communication between two minds. To complicate the situation, the language in the mind of the agent may be for communication between the agent at this time, and the agent at a future time. However, this is no objection to the original argument, which explicitly mentions a kind of "diary" and therefore communication across time.

Similar to the above objections, the response that the solipsist, even being the only real thing, is not in control of the 'universe' could address this question.

Solipsism amounts to realism

An objection, raised by David Deutsch,[15] among others, is that since the solipsist has no control over the "universe" he is creating for himself, there must be some unconscious part of his mind creating it. If the solipsist makes his unconscious mind the object of scientific study (e.g., by conducting experiments), he will find that it behaves with the same complexity as the universe offered by realism; therefore, the distinction between realism and solipsism collapses. What realism calls "the universe", solipsism calls "one's unconscious mind." But these are just different names for the same thing. Both are massively complex processes other than the solipsist's conscious mind, and the cause of all the solipsist's experiences—possibly merely a labeling distinction. Application of Occam's Razor might then suggest that postulating the existence of 'reality' may be a simpler solution than a massive unconscious mind.

The solipsist would claim that the apparent independence of real world events just shows how good his unconscious mind is at maintaining the illusion. The realist's world may be every bit as complex as the solipsist's unconscious, but the difference is that when the solipsist dies, the entire universe will cease to exist.

Philosophical poverty

Some philosophers hold the viewpoint that solipsism is entirely empty and without content. Like a 'faith' argument, it seems sterile, i.e., allows no further argument, nor can it be falsified. The world remains absolutely the same — so where could a solipsist go from there? Viewed in this way, solipsism seems only to have found a facile way to avoid the more difficult task of a critical analysis of what is 'real' and what isn't, and what 'reality' means. The solipsist might hold in response that further argument is meaningless and there are limits to what can be known about 'reality.'

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Thornton, Stephen P. (24 October 2004). "Solipsism and the Problem of Other Minds". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/s/solipsis.htm#H1. 
  2. ^ Flanagan, Owen J. (1991). The Science of the Mind. MIT Press. pp. 144. ISBN 0262560569, 9780262560566. http://books.google.com/books?id=80HIwMz3bvwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=infant+solipsism. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  3. ^ a b  "Materialism". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Materialism. 
  4. ^  "Idealism". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Idealism. 
  5. ^  "Plato and Platonism". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Plato_and_Platonism. 
  6. ^ Loflin, Lewis. "Notes on Neoplatonism and the relation to Christianity and Gnosticism". http://www.sullivan-county.com/id3/neoplatonism.htm. 
  7. ^ "German Idealism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 16 April 2001. http://www.iep.utm.edu/g/germidea.htm. 
  8. ^ DePoe, John M. "A Defense of Dualism". New Dualism Archive. http://www.newdualism.org/papers/J.DePoe/dualism.htm. 
  9. ^  "Dualism". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Dualism. 
  10. ^ Calef, Scott (9 June 2005). "Dualism and Mind". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/d/dualism.htm. 
  11. ^ Thornton, Stephen P. (24 October 2004). "Solipsism and the Problem of Other Minds". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/s/solipsis.htm. 
  12. ^ a b Khashaba, D.R. (28 July 2002). "Subjectivism and Solipsism". Philosophy Pathways (37). http://www.philosophypathways.com/newsletter/issue37.html. 
  13. ^ Chandrakirti, Guide to the Middle Way 6:71cd, translation in Ocean of Nectar: Wisdom and Compassion in Mahayana Buddhism, London: Tharpa Publications, p. 253.
  14. ^ Jacquette, Dale (1994). "Wittgenstein on private language and privat mental objects". Wittgenstein Studies (1). http://sammelpunkt.philo.at:8080/399/. 
  15. ^ Deutsch, David. "David Deutsch on Solipsism". The Free Woods. http://www.freivald.org/~jake/deutschOnSolipsism.html. 

References

Reference works

  • Runes, Dagobert D., ed (1962). Dictionary of Philosophy. Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams, and Company. 
  • Neilson, W.A.; Knott, T.A.; Carhart, P.W., eds (1950). Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language (Second, Unabridged ed.). Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Company. 
  • Mish, Frederick C., ed (1983). Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam–Webster. 

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SOLIPSISM (Lat. solus, alone, ipse, self), a philosophical term, applied to an extreme form of subjective idealism which denies that the human mind has any valid ground for believing in the existence of anything but itself. "It may best be defined, perhaps, as the doctrine that all existence is experience, and that there is only one experient. The Solipsist thinks that he is the one!" (Schiller). It is presented as a solution of the problem of explaining the nature of our knowledge of the external world. We cannot know things-in-themselves: they exist for us only in our cognition of them, through the medium of sense-given data. In F. H. Bradley's words (Appearance and Reality): " I cannot transcend experience, and experience is my experience. From this it follows that nothing beyond myself exists; for what is experience is its (the self's) states." See Idealism; also F. C. S. Schiller, Mind, New Series (April 1909).


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Simple English

Solipsism (pronounced "soll ipps is-um") is the belief that nothing but your own mind exists. Solipsists believe that everything they sense, including other people, is produced by their own imagination.



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