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An argument for solipsism

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Scott
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Scott » May 12th, 2012, 5:04 pm

Indeed, solipism would seem to suggest that at least two minds exist in a brain of some sort with what parallels split personality disorder: the human mind of the deceived experiencer and the mind of the god.

Of course, wouldn't this god-mind that is allegedly unconsciously dreaming up the world with all these people act would also literally be creating other minds when it -- subconsciously? -- creates the other characters in this dream world. Again this has interesting parallels to someone with split personality disorder.
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Vojos » May 12th, 2012, 5:52 pm

Scott wrote:Indeed, solipism would seem to suggest that at least two minds exist in a brain of some sort with what parallels split personality disorder: the human mind of the deceived experiencer and the mind of the god.

Of course, wouldn't this god-mind that is allegedly unconsciously dreaming up the world with all these people act would also literally be creating other minds when it -- subconsciously? -- creates the other characters in this dream world. Again this has interesting parallels to someone with split personality disorder.
Too bad "we"(assuming you are in fact real) always get to be the dumb part. Glad my superior half were kind enough to give me someone to conversate with though. Ironic though that this allegedly person with split personality disorder are as reflected as to recognize the disease in others but not himself. I wish I were a milder case, where those to personalitys were interacting at least, like "Gollum", so I could get it confirmed. This whole thought experiment can make you paranoid.

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Jackwhitlocke_005 » May 12th, 2012, 6:37 pm

Vojos- You are the first person to make me laugh on this forum! "Too bad we always get be the dumb part" LOL

Scott- That is a good observation. Can creation be done by an unconscious entity? If not, then that deals a serious blow to solipsism.

FH-Sorry I've taken so long to respond to you! What you are saying is true, solipsism cannot be "proven", so I suppose I should not have titled it a "proof". But, with that being said, the general direction of this thread remains the same. Should we lack belief in an external world, just as atheists lack belief in God? Also, I liked your part on Berkeley. But I do not understand how Berkeley stopped himself from falling into solipsism. Did he even have any convincing proofs of God's existence?

Everyone- I still have not gotten anything about Moore and his "Here is a hand" argument, nor on Wittgenstein's critique of it. Any response on this would be welcomed!

Everyone- I've sti

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Scott » May 12th, 2012, 9:11 pm

Jackwhitlocke_005 wrote:Scott- That is a good observation. Can creation be done by an unconscious entity? If not, then that deals a serious blow to solipsism.
It's not only the argument that the dreamer might also have to be conscious and that we do not identify with our unconscious in that scenario. There's also the other issue of other minds actually existing within a super-dreamer's dream somewhat like split personality disorder but especially in the fictionalized way of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings or as depicted in the movie Identity. Even if the external world is just a dream or a simulation of some sort, then it still seems that other minds exist even if as creations of and/or withing the same unconscious.

To illustrate, imagine you are a human plugged into 'The Matrix' and every other human has been killed in the real world. Solipsism still wouldn't be accurate, in my philosophy and analysis of the film, because Agent Smith among others would still be a sophisticated AI with a mind--unless you believe in philosophical zombies, which for the sake of argument I'll assume you don't. If I am interacting with Agent Smith or some other AI, how do I know whether he has a mind or his sophistication is an illusion? I don't think it takes much interaction to figure out the depths of his intelligence in light of the weakness of my own. Now let's imagine this 'AI' was not created via the data of bits and bytes of computer chips running in The Matrix but was hosted in the synopsizes and neurons of some part of some brain. Now imagine that brain is in some sense the same brain that part of which hosts your consciousness. Does that mean other people do not exist? No, at least not anymore than in the example of being alone in The Matrix with AIs like Agent Smith.

It seems reasonable to conclude that a brain/computer of some sort that is so powerful to be capable of creating a world as complex as our own with all its intricate detail would also be capable of creating and/or hosting multiple AI-like minds. The reality of those minds can be reasonably concluded from their complexity versus the weakness of our own mind as opposed to the relative strength of some super-brain or super-computer hosting us like The Matrix hosting Agent Smith. The fallacy of solipsism in this regard is to identify with that super-brain hosts one's own weak tiny little imaginary brain and mind when it is clear that I and to equivocate that with doubting the existence of other people's minds when really it is to doubt the existence of one's own mind by redefining mind and identity to refer to the unknowable machinery, e.g. the whole brain of someone with multiple personality disorder or the metal of the computers making up The Matrix or the whole of the matter making up the Universe to a philosophical realist. At that point it's not a matter of philosophical skepticism but of semantics and redefinition. Even the surest philosophical realist would be a solipsist simply by identifying with the real universe as a whole.
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Fhbradley » May 13th, 2012, 12:34 am

Jackwhitlocke_005 wrote:FH-Sorry I've taken so long to respond to you! What you are saying is true, solipsism cannot be "proven", so I suppose I should not have titled it a "proof". But, with that being said, the general direction of this thread remains the same. Should we lack belief in an external world, just as atheists lack belief in God? Also, I liked your part on Berkeley. But I do not understand how Berkeley stopped himself from falling into solipsism. Did he even have any convincing proofs of God's existence?

Everyone- I still have not gotten anything about Moore and his "Here is a hand" argument, nor on Wittgenstein's critique of it. Any response on this would be welcomed!

Everyone- I've sti
We should lack belief in an external world only if there are good reasons to believe there is no external world. So, are there any good reasons to believe there is no external world? Note that,as I've said before, the lack of arguments for an external world is not itself an argument against one. If there are no good arguments either way, there the proper thing to do is simply withhold judgment.

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Jackwhitlocke_005 » May 13th, 2012, 1:32 am

FH- Do you then withold judgement about the existence of an outside world? Or do you believe that there is sufficient evidence for the common sense view?

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Fiveredapples » May 13th, 2012, 2:49 am

Solipsism and Idealism are two theories you can defend forever. Nobody has a knock-down argument against either view. But then nobody cares.
"Some people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so" -- Bertrand Russell

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Vojos » May 13th, 2012, 12:38 pm

Jackwhitlocke_005 wrote:Vojos- You are the first person to make me laugh on this forum! "Too bad we always get be the dumb part" LOL
Thanks, hehe. Hope I can contribute with more than just amusement at a later time!

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Fhbradley » May 13th, 2012, 4:03 pm

Jackwhitlocke_005 wrote:FH- Do you then withold judgement about the existence of an outside world? Or do you believe that there is sufficient evidence for the common sense view?
I'm an Idealist, so the distinction between an inside world and an outside world is simply inapplicable in my metaphysic (and so like Berkeley I avoid skeptical problems). However, if you reframed the question as: Is the world dependent upon you or is it not dependent on you? I would say, no, it's not dependent upon me. And that's simply shown by the fact that I'm a contingent being. The source of all existence must be a necessary being.

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Belinda » May 14th, 2012, 3:47 am

Fhbradley wrote:
I'm an Idealist, so the distinction between an inside world and an outside world is simply inapplicable in my metaphysic (and so like Berkeley I avoid skeptical problems).
I was an idealist , once. I got there via being sceptical about my own and others' perceptions of exterior world. I took those to be faulty(evidence from optical illusions) and therefore came to believe that no senses could be relied upon to inform me of the nature or even the existence of exteriority. I thought therefore that exteriority probably did not exist. It is a short step from there to solipsism but for some reason solipsism made me want to laugh.

It is extraordinary that you deny that Berkeley was not a sceptic, even the greatest sceptic of all, barring his faith. However we each have faith in something or other.I really do believe that Fhbradley should offer some evidence if he has it that Berkeley was not a sceptic.
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by H M » May 14th, 2012, 2:51 pm

Belinda wrote:Fhbradley wrote:
I'm an Idealist, so the distinction between an inside world and an outside world is simply inapplicable in my metaphysic (and so like Berkeley I avoid skeptical problems).
I was an idealist , once. I got there via being sceptical about my own and others' perceptions of exterior world. I took those to be faulty(evidence from optical illusions) and therefore came to believe that no senses could be relied upon to inform me of the nature or even the existence of exteriority. I thought therefore that exteriority probably did not exist. It is a short step from there to solipsism but for some reason solipsism made me want to laugh.

It is extraordinary that you deny that Berkeley was not a sceptic, even the greatest sceptic of all, barring his faith. However we each have faith in something or other.I really do believe that Fhbradley should offer some evidence if he has it that Berkeley was not a sceptic.
Berkeley wasn't sceptical of the external world; properly understood, the latter just is the content of extrospection, co-confirmed with others. We certainly didn't get the idea of "external world" from some hidden, transcendent realm or anti-panpsychic substance that by definition exists as other than manifested evidence. We can't then turn around generations later and replace the original source for "external world" with products of reflective or speculative thought, as if the latter abstract descriptions / models suddenly have more real status than the immediate environment visually expressed and tactile-ly felt as surrounding our bodies, and clobbering it with constant interactions.

In the spirit of nominalism, Berkeley would be sceptical of reified generalizations and abstractions (like a matter substance); and things that existed in themselves without perceptions, or their being minus phenomenal occurrences, or without any intellectual dependence whatsoever. That is, in some of his later works he seemed to grant that God maintained entities or world in an intelligible manner, rather than as human-like percepts (quotes at bottom).

His immaterialism is another metaphysics itself because of positing minds and God as THE "stuff", which later phenomenalists discarded or became agnostic about. John Stuart Mill slyly replaced God with "permanent possibilities of sensation" (experience just is regulated without indulging in metaphysical explanations to explain it) while in the same passage giving a devoted salute to Berkeley. But phenomenalism can't really avoid any underlying metaphysics, either; some form of overarching panexperientialism, objective idealism, or "community of inter-affecting islands of phenomenal continuums" would seem to have to underly it to avoid solipsism.

Berkeley - "Mark it well; I do not say, I see things by perceiving that which represents them in the intelligible Substance of God. This I do not understand; but I say, the things by me perceived are known by the understanding, and produced by the will of an infinite Spirit." --The Three Dialogues

BERKELEY - "But to conceive God to be the sentient Soul, of an animal, is altogether unworthy and absurd. There is no sense, nor sensory, nor any thing like a sense or sensory in God. Sense implies an impression from some other being, and denotes a dependence in the Soul which hath it. Sense is a passion, and passions imply imperfection. God knoweth all things, as pure mind or intellect, but nothing by sense, nor in nor through a sensory. Therefore to suppose a sensory of any kind, whether space or any other in God would be very wrong, and lead us into false conceptions of his nature. The presuming there was such a thing as real absolute uncreated space, seems to have occasioned that modern mistake. But this presumption was, without grounds." --Siris

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Jackwhitlocke_005 » May 14th, 2012, 8:40 pm

FH - I am still lost as to how an idealist can avoid solipsism? If all things are dependent upon a consciousness to exist, why believe that the appearance of other bodies exists without your perception of them?

HM- Interesting response. Is idealism still very popular in the philosophic community? If not, what is now the most common view?And how do idealists avoid solipsism?

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Stormy » May 14th, 2012, 9:20 pm

Solipsism is correct. In order to know anything it is wrong. In order to be anything it is something, and in order to be something it is not solipsism. Therefore it is corrected and no longer is other than what could be without being. To be without being is non-existent, and non-existent could not be, which could be solipsism. Therefore one can easily say that without non-being, one can be much more, and we are so limited within all to be solipsism, that solipsism is born. Solipsism is our ability to be recognised, none other than the stars, know this more. In them you correct your flaws, the ones that were never there at all.

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by H M » May 15th, 2012, 2:32 pm

Jackwhitlocke_005 wrote:HM- Interesting response. Is idealism still very popular in the philosophic community? If not, what is now the most common view?
Materialism or physicalism is the majority view today. The former could be dumped as a form of naivete still hanging around from the early days of natural philosophy. And the latter, if taken to be the irony of converting physics into a metaphysics, could become so heavy with the abstract descriptions and models of its namesake that it eventually evolves into an information metaphysics. That in turn might be considered a modern version of an intelligible world again, which was arguably the earliest "objective idealism" of the west. Or a neutral monism, in that Kenneth Sayre favored that classification:

"Neutral Monism is the view that neither mind nor matter is ontologically basic, but are both reducible (in some appropriate sense of reduction that requires specification) to another more fundamental principle that is 'neutral' between them. The neutral monism I advocate holds that the fundamental principle to which both mind and matter are reducible is not a substance in any sense (Aristotelian, Cartesian, whatever), but is rather [a] structure of a sort that can only be represented mathematically. This structure is what information theorists…call 'information.' The neutral monism I advocate, accordingly, has more in common with the ontology of the late Platonic dialogues than with that of the early Russell which the name 'neutral monism' commonly brings to mind. "
And how do idealists avoid solipsism?
By adhering to what they posit about their idealism, or whatever non-dualism which endorses "mental" or "qualitative" as the principle for its monism.

Leibniz, for instance, introduced panexperientialism, experiences for all things, not just humans -- replacing Berkeley's minds/God combo with monads/pre-Established Harmony; he really didn't need God as an origin for the monads' coordinated internal presentations (just make the pre-Established Harmony brute, like the laws of nature). Hume even got rid of the fundamental status of the entities having the phenomenal manifestations and reduced them to arising from bundles of the latter. An ontological version of such (if it was originally a epistemological stance) would eliminate a possibility of solipsism just by virtue of lacking minds, monads, or things that were basic; no more permanent than the bodies of materialism. The solipsist would be a short-lived complex of phenomena arising in the evolutions of a panexperiential realm, and accordingly be a solipsist in claim only, not fact. His perceptions of everything else would arise from relations with those occurrences in that phenomenal environment, just as it happens in a material universe.

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Belinda » May 16th, 2012, 3:32 am

HM wrote:
Berkeley wasn't sceptical of the external world; properly understood, the latter just is the content of extrospection, co-confirmed with others.
For Berkeley esse is percipi ; to be is to be perceived. The implication is that being depends on perception. Who perceives? Whose ideas prevail? The human and God perceive, but God perceives infinitely and the human finitely.Therefore Berkeley is sceptical about the reality of the external world. Why, then is it that the tree in the forest is still the same tree apparently as it was when I saw it and felt its bark yesterday? Because the infinite God has made reality so that the external world fits with our ideas. The fact remains that Berkeley is sceptical about 1. the reliability of our ideas and 2. materialism because materialism will oust God from our ideas.

Berkeley is not sceptical about God. However Berkeley is sceptical about Cartesian dualism because of the problem of causally connecting mental and physical substances.

Scepticism as a method was reintroduced into philosophy after the renaissance of certain strands of Greek thought, together with the practice of William of Occam. Scientific Enlightenment, of which Berkeley is a practitioner although Christian, furthered the sceptical method, which is a method based upon doubt that could be cleared only by good enough evidence or reasoning or both.
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