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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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H M
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by H M » May 16th, 2012, 7:51 pm

Belinda wrote: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.
This is the very sleight of hand I was referring to. Metaphysical realists (or materialists in this instance) hijacked the term "external world" and tried to cozen us into believing it has always referred to their general substance and/or transcendent version of bodies and space. By gosh, there was no "external world" until materialists came along with their product of reflective thought! Let's replace the empirical environment plainly seen and felt as outside our equally plainly seen and felt bodies with an abstract realm and substance that is hidden, so that we can then run about like idiotic chickens with our heads cut-off and proclaim we have no proof of an external world. "Proof" rather than empirical evidence now entering the picture because the kind of external world they've foisted upon us was a product of reasoning, ergo it seems to now require the concoction of an invincible argument to verify it.

One of the poor victims of this legerdemain is moaning down the block: "Oh, woe is me, scepticism is upon us! Scepticism! The external world I interact with everyday is suddenly but a mere representation or ectype of an archetypal world that only inferrings or speculations can feign to explore. I have no direct contact with it so now I harbor doubts about this new external world that has replaced the old, and apparently am forgetful that there even was the old one to return to!" LOL

BERKELEY: "...we have shown the doctrine of Matter or corporeal substance to have been the main pillar and support of Scepticism..."

And before anyone can get to it: Yes, Berkeley very plainly says in the The Three Dialogues that there is no need for the "external world", but this is after materialism has hijacked the expression. He's an empiricist and an ancestor of phenomenalism referring to metaphysical mumbo-jumbo [other than his own immaterialism], and not referring to what is the external world to those of a perceptual evidence bent.

Kant's empirical realism, which accompanies his transcendental idealism, revolves around a somewhat similar stance of what "real" and "outer" are. Matter and objects in space here are not something that are abstract, invisible, and inferred. They are manifested:

"...The transcendental idealist is, therefore, an empirical realist, and allows to matter, as appearance, a reality which does not permit of being inferred, but is immediately perceived. [...] In order to arrive at the reality of outer objects I have just as little need to resort to inference as I have in regard to the reality of the object of my inner sense, that is, in regard to the reality of my thoughts. [...] All outer perception, therefore, yields immediate proof of something real in space, or rather is the real itself. In this sense empirical realism is beyond question; that is, there corresponds to our outer intuitions something real in space."

If one literally excluded space and time and all the categories that Kant does from the so-called "noumenal world", then his transcendent circumstance is no "world" all. The natural organization that things in themselves conforms to in experience - or as their phenomenal counterparts - is provided by the system of Sensibility and Understanding, which is common or universal to all humans. Kant's empirical world is not a copy of an archetypal world, it exists for the first time in the synthesis of sense and intellection (there is direct contact with that world), preceded by a receptivity in regard to the former faculty. "Other humans" as well as many other "things" would still be existing powers that interpenetrated and affected each other in their spaceless non-realm, but there is no literal world on the "freedom side" of themselves that they are enslaved to. (And "affected" does not refer to a causality grounded in spatial and temporal relations).

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Spectrum » May 16th, 2012, 11:17 pm

H M wrote:
Belinda wrote:HM wrote: 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.

This is the very sleight of hand I was referring to. Metaphysical realists (or materialists in this instance) hijacked the term "external world" and tried to cozen us into believing it has always referred to their general substance and/or transcendent version of bodies and space. By gosh, there was no "external world" until materialists came along with their product of reflective thought! Let's replace the empirical environment plainly seen and felt as outside our equally plainly seen and felt bodies with an abstract realm and substance that is hidden, so that we can then run about like idiotic chickens with our heads cut-off and proclaim we have no proof of an external world. "Proof" rather than empirical evidence now entering the picture because the kind of external world they've foisted upon us was a product of reasoning, ergo it seems to now require the concoction of an invincible argument to verify it.
Here is Berkeley's view on the external world, re A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge [PHK],
35. I do not argue against the existence of any one thing that we can apprehend either by sense or reflexion. That the things I see with my eyes and touch with my hands do exist, really exist, I make not the least question.
The only thing whose existence we deny is that which philosophers call Matter or corporeal substance.
"Matter" in this philosophical perspective is taken to be an inert senseless substance, unthinking and independent of the human mind.
Locke and Berkeley had proven that "matter" has mind dependent primary and secondary qualities, thus there is a contradiction if anyone were to claim "matter" is independent of mind.

Thus Berkeley claimed in PHK,
3. For as to what is said of the absolute existence of unthinking things without any relation to their being perceived, that seems perfectly unintelligible.
Their esse is percepi, nor is it possible they should have any existence out of the minds or thinking things which perceive them.

IMO, despite 3 above, from his Principles of Human Knowledge, the essence of Berkeley's emphasis was more on secondary and primary qualities rather than on 'esse is percepi'. The onus is on the philosophical materialists to provide proofs of their claim that their "matter" exist.

Berkeley main counter against materialism was based on Locke's secondary qualities and his own arguments for the existence of mind-dependent primary qualities. IMO, this two arguments are sufficient to put a negative limit on philosophical materialism.
His additional phrase of 'esse is percepi', and terms like ideas, 'spirit', god, etc. are secondary to the issue. "Percepi-Perception", "ideas" are very complex terms and should not be taken on from the common perspective.
However, Berkeley's esse is percipi had been misinterpreted from the common perspective by many to be his main theory and is forced it into solipsism (in a pejorative sense) to make it look stupid.

If 'solipsism' is taken to be 'believing only one's mind exist', then it is the philosophical materialists who are solipsistic. When a philosophical materialist or realist believes that 'matter' and the external world is absolutely independent of their mind, then, the only mind they can possibly and REALLY 'know' of, would only be their mind via the cogito, thus fitting the definition of 'solipsism'.
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Belinda » May 17th, 2012, 3:13 am

I am afraid that I do not see what HM and Spectrum see , despite their careful explanations. Berkeleyan idealism summed up as esse is percipi seems perfectly good to me, as long as God grants to people his divine reason which confers rationality so that order is imposed upon what would otherwise be isolated sets of ideas at variance with each other. I am not sure how my explanation of Berkeley is any different from pre-established harmony.

As for the meaning of 'scepticism', I was using the word in its general colloquial sense that refers to what people do about deciding upon commonsense probabilities as to what cases may be.

In this connection it seems to me that Berkeley was sceptical about what we call materialism, and he was also sceptical about substance dualism. I myself prefer Spinoza's double aspect theory of existence which has no need for the transcendent God hypothesis and which has no problems with solipsism or with binding mind and body together.
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Spectrum » May 18th, 2012, 12:16 am

Belinda wrote:I am afraid that I do not see what HM and Spectrum see , despite their careful explanations. Berkeleyan idealism summed up as esse is percipi seems perfectly good to me, as long as God grants to people his divine reason which confers rationality so that order is imposed upon what would otherwise be isolated sets of ideas at variance with each other. I am not sure how my explanation of Berkeley is any different from pre-established harmony.

My point: from my reading of Berkeley, it would be preferable to ignore his maxim 'esse is percipi' which can be easily misinterpreted by others. Berkeley's intent was to prove God exists, i.e. the gist of his proof in simple form,

1. Objects that exist are comprised of mind-dependent primary and secondary qualities.
2. The above are represented by ideas in mind [thinking].
3. An unthinking object is a contradiction, thus 'esse is percipi', and,
4. If no one to percipi, then God is perceiving.
5. God is perceiver of the whole of nature and universe.
6. Only an omnipresent God can perceive all,
7. therefore, God exists.

I had not presented Berkeley argument fully and what I had left-out premises are in his book. Nevertheless, what I had left out is not critical in this situation.
IMO, the only point that is useful from Berkeley is only point 1. We can forget about points 2 to 7 including 'esse is percipi'. These point were introduced by Berkeley to justify the existence of God.

Berkeley's proof in 1 is sufficient to limit philosophical materialism, and there is no need to use 'esse is percipi' which is leading to his proof for God which non-theists are not interested at all.

From point 1 of Berkeley above (ignoring 2 -7), we should then continue with Kant's transcendental idealism. Kant's theory is not thorough, we need to supplement it with those of Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger and others.
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Belinda » May 18th, 2012, 2:47 am

Thanks Spectrum, I understand that. But I object that your points 2 to 7 are needed to render point 1 feasible. True, point 1 is the backbone of the case for idealism. However if point 1 stands alone we either have God or solipsism exclusively as maker of order. Berkeley chooses God as the universal perceiver or order maker, probably remembering the Spirit moving over the waters in Genesis 1. Contrasting the Berkeleyan vision with that of Spinoza who puts nature-necessity in place of the self or the transcendent God it's easy to see why the RCC disapproved of Spinoza.
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Spectrum » May 18th, 2012, 4:53 am

Belinda wrote:Thanks Spectrum, I understand that. But I object that your points 2 to 7 are needed to render point 1 feasible. True, point 1 is the backbone of the case for idealism. However if point 1 stands alone we either have God or solipsism exclusively as maker of order. Berkeley chooses God as the universal perceiver or order maker, probably remembering the Spirit moving over the waters in Genesis 1. Contrasting the Berkeleyan vision with that of Spinoza who puts nature-necessity in place of the self or the transcendent God it's easy to see why the RCC disapproved of Spinoza.
Berkeley used 1 and moved on to prove his version of God. It not necessary to rely on 2 to 7 to render point 1 feasible.
As I had stated, one can rely on 1 and use Kant to proceed further to understand reality in a more refined perspective.

Spinoza moved to nature and a panentheistic or pantheistic God is definitely more refined than Berkeley's creator God. However as with any God concept, it clashes with Kant's noumenon that limits the existence of God in any form.
Kant in CPR wrote:"If by 'noumenon' we mean a thing so far as it is not an object of our sensible intuition, and so abstract from our mode of intuiting it, this is a noumenon in the negative sense of the term".[20]
As we moved on, one should get rid of the concept of 'noumenon' into 'emptiness'.
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by The_prince » May 18th, 2012, 11:15 am

Our Mind takes shape only because of the content we observe outside of our brain.

i.e: A child is not as conscious as a grown man. Otter world is more real then then internal self.

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Muddler » May 18th, 2012, 12:44 pm

If a solipsist doesn't get his experience from the outside world, then he must have one helluva creative imagination and one that he doesn't control at that. Is it really possible for an isolated mind to make up such rich experience without sensory input from a real world? I don't think so.

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Belinda » May 18th, 2012, 4:44 pm

Yes, Muddler, it is 'possible' because if your mind were to invent absolutely everything it would be inventing the info that you get from your senses, and it would be inventing senses, and the whole caboodle.
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Prismatic » May 18th, 2012, 5:20 pm

Thornton Wilder said: "There's nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head."
Everywhere I have sought peace and never found it except in a corner with a book. —Thomas à Kempis

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Muddler » May 18th, 2012, 6:57 pm

Belinda, that's a big if, and ifs are not sufficient to make things possible. If your toes could talk would it be possible for them to explain where the Dow Industrials will close tomorrow?

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by INtErNeT mYsTeRy » May 19th, 2012, 12:40 am

Solipsism; just a synonym for atheism.

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Belinda » May 19th, 2012, 4:19 am

Muddler wrote:Belinda, that's a big if, and ifs are not sufficient to make things possible. If your toes could talk would it be possible for them to explain where the Dow Industrials will close tomorrow?

Muddler, I put startle marks round 'possible' because idealism is ontologically possible even although it is not possible if materialism is the ontological case.

-- Updated Sat May 19, 2012 3:20 am to add the following --
INtErNeT mYsTeRy wrote:Solipsism; just a synonym for atheism.
It may be, for you, but for generations of philosophers it has meant something else.
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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by hilda » May 19th, 2012, 7:40 am

"1. We experience all things through the mind 2.Other people are experienced only through the mind 3.Other being cannot be known to exist outside the mind"

An excellent account of solipsism.

1. Solipsim is an intellectual argument. 2. Intelligence means conceit. Therefore 3. Wittgenstein was homosexual.

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Re: An argument for solipsism

Post by Muddler » May 19th, 2012, 10:40 am

Belinda, everything is ontologically possible, and nothing is without a material basis.

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