Solipsism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Solipsism (i/ˈsɒlɨpsɪzəm/; from Latin solus, meaning "alone", and ipse, meaning "self") is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known, and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.
There are varying degrees of solipsism that parallel the varying degrees of serious skepticism.
Metaphysical solipsism is the "strongest" variety of solipsism. Based on a philosophy of subjective idealism, metaphysical solipsists maintain that the self is the only existing reality and that all other reality, including the external world and other persons, are representations of that self, and have no independent existence. There are weaker versions of metaphysical solipsism, such as Caspar Hare's egocentric presentism (or perspectival realism), in which other people are conscious but their experiences are simply not present.
Epistemological solipsism is the variety of idealism according to which only the directly accessible mental contents of the solipsistic philosopher can be known. The existence of an external world is regarded as an unresolvable question rather than actually false.
Epistemological solipsists claim that realism requires the question: assuming that there is a universe independent of an agent's mind and knowable only through the agent's senses, how is the existence of this independent universe to be scientifically studied? If a person sets up a camera to photograph the moon when they are not looking at it, then at best they determine that there is an image of the moon in the camera when they eventually look at it. Logically, this does not assure that the moon itself (or even the camera) existed at the time the photograph is supposed to have been taken. To establish that it is an image of an independent moon requires many other assumptions that amount to begging the question.
Methodological solipsism may be a sort of weak agnostic (meaning "missing knowledge") solipsism. It is a consequence of strict epistemological requirements for "Knowledge" (e.g. the requirement that knowledge must be certain). They still entertain the points that any induction is fallible and that we may be brains in vats. However there are those who say that even what we perceive as the brain is actually part of the external world, for it is only through our senses that we can see or feel the mind. There are thoughts, but that's all that's known for certain.
Importantly, they do not intend to conclude that the stronger forms of solipsism are actually true. Methodological solipsists simply emphasize that justifications of an external world must be founded on indisputable facts about their own consciousness. The Methodological solipsist believes that subjective impressions (Empiricism) or innate knowledge (Rationalism) are the sole possible or proper starting point for philosophical construction. Often methodological solipsism is not held as a belief system, but rather used as a thought experiment to assist skepticism (e.g. Descartes' cartesian skepticism).
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 go no further than "I think; therefore I exist" without providing any real details about the nature of the "I" that has been proven to exist.
The theory of solipsism also merits close examination because it relates to three widely held philosophical presuppositions, each itself fundamental and wide-ranging in importance:
- My most certain knowledge is the content of my own mind—my thoughts, experiences, affects, etc.
- 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).
- The experience of a given person is necessarily private to that person.
DescartesThe 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".
Epistemology(/ from Greek ἐπιστήμη, epistēmē, meaning "knowledge, understanding", and λόγος, logos, meaning "study of") is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge and is also referred to as "theory of knowledge". It questions what knowledge is and how it can be acquired, and the extent to which knowledge pertinent to any given subject or entity can be acquired. Much of the debate in this field has focused on the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions such as truth, belief, and justification. The term "epistemology" was introduced by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier (1808–1864).
BerkeleyGeorge Berkeley's arguments against materialism in favor of idealism provide the solipsist with a number of arguments not found in Descartes. While the latter defends ontological dualism, thus accepting the existence of a material world (res extensa) as well as immaterial minds (res cogitans) and God, Berkeley denies the existence of matter but not minds, of which God is one.
Psychology and psychiatrySolipsism is often introduced in the context of relating it to pathological psychological conditions.
"consciousness makes each of us aware only of his own states of mind, that other people, too, possess a consciousness is an inference which we draw by analogy from their observable utterances and actions, in order to make this behavior of theirs intelligible to us."