I happened to be browsing through the forums and came across this thread. As I was not around at the time to contribute to this thread, and being too lazy to compose a whole new response, I thought that I would reference a couple of posts that I have written previously, the first is of one of my earlier posts on this site, the other I posted elsewhere. But I thought them both relevant. As a solipsist I feel no great need to defend my beliefs, but I do feel some sense of responsibility to contribute to people's understanding of the subject, for I am a great believer in the power of truth and understanding.
Partinobodycular wrote:Let me briefly explain my reasoning. Everything that I sense. Everything that I see, feel, hear, smell, or taste, I experience with my mind. But I have no way of knowing if these sensations are real, and their source external to myself, or whether they exist in my consciousness alone. Everything may be an illusion. This doesn't make me feel omnipotent, special, or superior. It makes me feel alone. Because I can never be certain that there is anyone out there, other than me. That is what it truly means to be God, and to be alone. Even if "God" were to suddenly appear before me, performing miracles and wonders, I still would not know if he was real. It's simply impossible to know whether anything exists anywhere other than in my mind.
But this also makes me feel privileged. There is a world, a wonderful world for me to experience. There is pain, and joy, and struggle, and beauty, and boundless mysteries to be explored. And I love them all. I love the pain. I love the struggles. I love life. Because the alternative is to be alone. Really alone. So I embrace this world, be it real or illusion. No matter the consequences or circumstances. I live life as if I am the hero of my own novel. I do what is right and good not because others expect it from me, but because what I choose to create with my life, is all that I have, and I want to make it spectacular. I want to reach its end and be proud. I persevered. I did well. I lived. And it was glorious. No matter if I was a lowly slave, or a privileged king. It was glorious.
The thing is, that if I am wrong, and it is I that disappear when this life is over, and not the other way around, it won't matter. For I will have done well, and I will be happy with my life. And if there is a God and he is unhappy with what I have done, so be it. I make no excuses. I accept all judgments with humility.
Partinobodycular wrote:One would think that Solipsism would produce only apathy. Why should a solipsist care about something that exists only in their mind? I can't speak for other solipsists, I can only speak for myself. I care, because the alternative is to give up hope, to simply turn my back on the world, and slip inexorably into despair, and I can't bring myself to do that, I can't be indifferent, I have tried. Believe me, with all the injustice and hatred in the world, I have tried. You might think that it would be easy for a solipsist to simply block it all out, and pretend it doesn't matter. After all, it's not real anyway, and there's nothing that I can do to change anything. There's no wondrous deed that I can perform, no inspirational words that I can speak. It would be so much simpler if there were such words. But there aren't. So why bother to try, it's so much easier just to be indifferent. But like I say, I've tried. Despite so many reasons not to, I care. Maybe not as openly as some, or as deeply as some, but in my own unassuming way, I care. Solipsism is not a justification for indifference. The hatred and intolerance in this world are reason enough for that.
I realize that Solipsism can be depressing. To think that everything that you love may be only an illusion. All the things that once seemed so certain, may be no more than a dream. All the suffering seems pointless, and all the sacrifices meaningless. All you really know, is loneliness. When you speak, no one answers, when you cry, no one hears. You are the creator of all, and the lord of nothing. Some may choose to believe that you fancy yourself a God, but all that you are is alone. All your noble intentions count for nothing, all your compassion touches no one, all your cries go unheard, save but for yourself. To be a Solipsist is to glimpse, for the briefest of moments, the heart of God, to feel the emptiness that such omniscience brings. To know what solitude truly means. In the words of Edna St Vincent Millay, "For my omniscience paid I toll, in infinite remorse of soul." Only a fool would choose to be a God. Solipsism doesn't feed one's ego, it crushes it.
So what is a solipsist to do? There is no other choice, but to cherish this life. Every last fleeting breath of it. Wrap your arms around it and never let go. Revel in all its diversity. For there is nobility, even in despair. There is beauty, even in suffering. In the hardest of times, and in the cruelest of places, abides the majesty of life. Fantastic, wonderful, glorious life. Full of heartache and remorse, love and triumph. In comfort or in struggle, wonderful, glorious life. It begets strength from adversity, mercy from injustice, and compassion from sorrow. Though others deem it too bitter, let my cup runneth over. Let me never dismiss it, let me embrace it. Be I king or pauper, slave or free, let me love my life. For if the alternative is to be alone, then I choose life, even if only a dream. And when it is over and done, and my journey is through, let me remember it all. Every last majestic sunrise, every sultry summer breeze, every love and every loss. Let me treasure them all. As momentary and illusory as they may be, they are not as nothing, they are everything. They are all that I have. They are.....life.
You ask, "what if solipsism is true and the people I love dont exist?" Oh, as long as you can wrap your arms around them, they exist. As long as you can remember them, they will be. They are your heart and your soul. Without them you have nothing. They give you meaning and purpose. They give substance to you, as much as you give substance to them. Because of them you persevere, because of them you overcome, because of them you are more then you could have ever hoped to be, do not forsake them nor forget them. They are the embodiment of all that you love, and fear, and yearn for. With all their faults and failures they are the best of you, and the least of you. You are reflections of each other. Always, and in all things, cherish them. Solipsism is not a reason to love them less, it is a reason to love them more.
To be a Solipsist is to accept that there are things that you can never know. As steadfastly as you may choose to believe them, you can never truly know. But Solipsism is also the realization of just what a magnificent and miraculous gift life is. For all its trials and tribulations, life is a miraculous thing, whether by the hand of God, the fortuitous result of chance, or the product of a solitary mind, life is a miraculous thing. No matter the cost or circumstance, cherish it.
Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.