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Philboid Studge
08-27-2005, 09:33 AM
I woke up this morning and discovered I am a solipsist.

1) Which one of you figments of my imagination can prove me wrong?

2) Is the onus on me, who makes the claim, to supply a proof? Or is solipsism beyond that -- and possibly the purest expression of 'self-evidence' there is?

3) What's the point -- or what value can be derived from -- solipsism? Can a discussion of solipsism be useful in any way?

4) Extra credit: a) compare solipsism to theistic beliefs b) compare solipsism to insanity

If no one can answer these questions, I will be very disappointed in myself.

TheSnake
08-27-2005, 09:57 AM
From dictionary.com:

1. The theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified.
2. The theory or view that the self is the only reality.

Which one?
If it's the first one, why stop there? Why not just say that nothing can be truly known or verified.
If the second, is it really useful? I think you do have to prove at least that. You have to show, at least for yourself, that solipsist view more useful than any other view you know about.
Unless you can alter reality with your thoughs, I don't think you can find it useful. On the other hand, if you think you can alter reality with your thoughs, you probably should see a shrink.

ProveIt
08-27-2005, 10:00 AM
4) Extra credit: a) compare solipsism to theistic beliefs b) compare solipsism to insanity
Theistic beliefs = Insanity At least to a point, don't they? Wouldn't this be the same? Do I get extra, extra credit points?

Philboid Studge
08-27-2005, 10:47 AM
Which one?
I think these two definitions are very close in meaning. (Almost like the difference between a weak and strong atheist.) But for clarity, let's say definition 2. But I'll still respond to your question about def 1.

If it's the first one, why stop there? Why not just say that nothing can be truly known or verified.
Because a solipsist accepts 'perceptions' or 'awareness' as undisputable evidence of a self. (That's reasonable, I think.) But he does not accept any perceptions as evidence of an external reality (not so reasonable, but impossible to disprove).

If the second, is it really useful? I think you do have to prove at least that.
Agreed. I think it's useless, as a world-view. But I'm hoping it's useful as a discussion topic, because it might illuminate some things about reality and the extent to which we can know it. I also think it might be useful -- qua discussion topic -- because it lays bare what 'proofs' means and how they can or should be applied.

Theistic beliefs = Insanity At least to a point, don't they? Wouldn't this be the same? Do I get extra, extra credit points?
Sorry, you forgot to use either of our accepted medical terms: 'Christ-Psychotic' or 'Pre-TSD' (http://ravingatheist.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=1323).

TheSnake
08-27-2005, 11:07 AM
If it's the first one, why stop there? Why not just say that nothing can be truly known or verified.
Because a solipsist accepts 'perceptions' or 'awareness' as undisputable evidence of a self. (That's reasonable, I think.) But he does not accept any perceptions as evidence of an external reality (not so reasonable, but impossible to disprove).
Hmm. Would the opposite view be equally (un)reasonable? That is, perceptions are evidence of an external reality, but self is just an illusion.

But I'm hoping it's useful as a discussion topic, because it might illuminate some things about reality and the extent to which we can know it.
Ok. I think I'll hang back and see what transpires. I usually find conversations like these somewhat fruitless.

oliverwxyz
08-27-2005, 11:42 AM
Unless you can alter reality with your thoughs, I don't think you can find it useful. On the other hand, if you think you can alter reality with your thoughs, you probably should see a shrink.
Or if he can alter reality with his thoughts perhaps he is God? ;-)

I think this is a good reason for assuming 'solipsism' is wrong (ie you can;t affect extrenal reality with your thoughts therefore it's probably got an independent existence...).

Descartes did that thing of stripping back everything to just saying the only thing he could be sure existed was himself, thniking the thoughts. But he then proceded to build up other things he thought he could be sure of based on this, including rehashing some old proofs of God, like the one that goes - I can imagine a perfect God, if he didn't exist he wouldn't be perfect, therefore he exists... er right...

I think we may as well assume that the exterior would is not just a figment of our imaginations, as a working hypotyhesis. Can't see any benefit to thinking otherwise.

Oliver

TheSnake
08-27-2005, 11:48 AM
I can imagine a perfect God, if he didn't exist he wouldn't be perfect, therefore he exists..
Why is it that people like Descartes are though of as greatest philosophers ever, when his ideas are as intelligent as that. If he was good, I don't even want to hear about the truly bad ones.

oliverwxyz
08-27-2005, 12:50 PM
I can imagine a perfect God, if he didn't exist he wouldn't be perfect, therefore he exists..
Why is it that people like Descartes are though of as greatest philosophers ever, when his ideas are as intelligent as that. If he was good, I don't even want to hear about the truly bad ones.
Well I must admit I found his proofs of God pretty lame, but I suppose his basic idea - that you should start by doubting everything that is presented to you as true simply on the basis of tradition and convention, and use your intellect to decide what you think is true instead, is a good one, and was reasonably unusual in his time (17thC).

He had a variety of odd ideas otherwise, which I suppose goes to show even a genuine wish to use your intelligence doesn't always produce the 'right' answers (that's not to say it's not worth attempting all the same and we do benefit from a lot of hindsight and a lot of discoveries he didn't know about). For example, I think he decided he believed in a human soul, but that animals were like machines.

Oliver

Philboid Studge
08-27-2005, 03:11 PM
As is often the case, I have an inchoate ' theory,' for want of a better word, so I'm throwing it out there to be picked apart. I see similarities between solipsists and theists: both world-views seek to explain (simplify?) the universe; neither can be proved or disproved; both are reliant on personal experience as ' evidence' that their respecive world-views are real (isn't every defense of theism sitting on the rather shaky foundation of a perceived 'personal relationship' with God?); both are maddeningly ego-centric, and so on. Most important, both add an unnecessary layer to our understanding of the universe, but of course, neither adds a thing to that understanding.

I think this is a good reason for assuming 'solipsism' is wrong (ie you can;t affect extrenal reality with your thoughts therefore it's probably got an independent existence...).
A solipsist might argue that some aspects of the world can be affected. If the universe is one big 'dream'* a part of that dream are the interactions the self has with characters, events, and etc therein. The 'dreamer' can make choices that maximize his happiness and minimize his suffering.

*I'm compelled to fumigate the word with quotation marks because of language limitations. 'Dream' implies that the experience is unreal, but the solipsist knows no 'unreality' -- it's all real, as far as he's concerned.

oliverwxyz
08-27-2005, 03:42 PM
Most important, both add an unnecessary layer to our understanding of the universe, but of course, neither adds a thing to that understanding
This is true... can't be arsed to ponder this topic more right now.

Jennifer
08-27-2005, 05:03 PM
If all of us are figments of your imagination, then shouldn't you be able to tell the future?

The theist sees God as the solipsist and him/herself as the figment.

TheSnake
08-27-2005, 06:22 PM
I see similarities between solipsists and theists: both world-views seek to explain (simplify?) the universe;
Interesting. It seems to me that when a theist tries to rationalise his view, he'll end up saying that nothing is really certain, thus his God belief is equally right as believing in something else and the only thing certain is that he exists. So theism is ultimately a form of solipsism. (I hope I'm making sense, I've had a few drinks. Or actually a considerable amount. Bowmore's is a good scotch.)

TheSnake
08-27-2005, 06:23 PM
If all of us are figments of your imagination, then shouldn't you be able to tell the future?
Can you foresee what you're going to imagine? That'd be useful for novelists.

Sternwallow
08-27-2005, 06:40 PM
I'm just reading Richard Dawkins "Unweaving the Rainbow" (very good reading, btw). He points out the great amount of fudging our perceptions do in filtering out redundancy of the raw sensory input and filling gaps in it. He thinks the personality IS an illusion to a large extent, being an emergent attribute of a brain full of competing and cooperating memes. So, per our present disussion, what we think of as external reality is created by our mind while the "I" in personality is an illusion.

Because even solipsists have negative experiences, an implication is that they create bad events for the variety and forget that they are actually in control. This idea is sometimes given for why God deliberately forgot He was God when He became Jesus.

TheSnake
08-27-2005, 06:47 PM
He thinks the personality IS an illusion to a large extent, being an emergent attribute of a brain full of competing and cooperating memes.
I'll disagree with Dawkins here. I think that personality is a word used to describe certain qualities of human behaviour. So it's not an illusion, but really exists, though not in any physical sence.

Sternwallow
08-27-2005, 08:18 PM
Personality, in the sense of the feeling of "meeness" (not a word), could easily be a fabrication of the brain just the same as the brain convinces us that a skip in time has occurred when we "experience" deja-vu. There is a specific function in the brain that identifies the boundaries between our physical selves and everything else. When that function is impaired or suppressed by whatever means, meditation, medication or injury, we feel "at one with the universe".

Similarly, whether we have free will or not, it is necessary for the brain to support it psychologically for good mental health. Note the distinction between intellectually knowing if there is free will and the "gut feeling" that you and I may actually make choices that affect the future. Again a major personality trait is fabricated in the brain.

I can live with the idea that a bunch of software/firmware/memory/hardware functions can act together to make me behave like a human being and make me feel like an individual person.

Bighead
08-27-2005, 08:23 PM
There is no I in team

Choobus
08-27-2005, 11:44 PM
If you are a solipsist and I kick your ass, who's fault is that?
good question, but I wonder if the teabag pussy can kick anyone's ass???? He (teabag) sounds like the onlygay in the village (apologies to anyone without BBC America)

Philboid Studge
08-28-2005, 04:34 PM
If all of us are figments of your imagination, then shouldn't you be able to tell the future?
I'm not sure how that follows. I can make predictions -- either scientific ones based on the information in my 'dream' or wacky Kreskin-like ones based on same -- but I don't think solipcism implies foreknowledge.

The theist sees God as the solipsist and him/herself as the figment.
This I like.

I hope I'm making sense, I've had a few drinks.
Interesting, because you were responding to a post made under considerable influence of alcohol and drugs.

I'm just reading Richard Dawkins "Unweaving the Rainbow" (very good reading, btw)
Dawkins is already in my reading list on-deck circle; I haven't yet decided where to begin with him -- maybe with "Unweaving"

kmisho
08-29-2005, 06:39 AM
There is no such thing as a real solipcist. All solipcists are figments of MY imagination.

Philboid Studge
08-29-2005, 09:14 AM
Hi there kmisho! It's always a rare treat to meet a fellow solipsist!

Rhinoqulous
08-30-2005, 09:40 AM
If everything really is just a figment of your imagination, Philboid, I'd like to thank you for the baggie of "pineapple" I picked up this weekend. Maybe you could imagine some Northern Lights showing up around here again. Thanks.

Your Humble Figment,
Rhinoq

Philboid Studge
08-30-2005, 06:02 PM
There is no I in team.
One of my dyslexic figments points out that there is a me in team.


Rhinoq: Excellent. I expect no less from my figments.

Jennifer
08-30-2005, 06:59 PM
If everything really is just a figment of your imagination, Philboid, I'd like to thank you for the baggie of "pineapple" I picked up this weekend. Maybe you could imagine some Northern Lights showing up around here again. Thanks.

Your Humble Figment,
Rhinoq
And about my car

Angry Figment
Jennifer

Philboid Studge
08-30-2005, 07:10 PM
And about my car
What's this 'my' stuff?

Maybe you could imagine some Northern Lights showing up around here again. Thanks.
Your lips to God's ears. (By 'your' I mean mine; by 'God's' I mean mine.)

Jennifer
08-30-2005, 07:19 PM
And about my car
What's this 'my' stuff?
Luckily there's no need to apologize.

About the car you imagine me driving. How about a red jeep.

Sternwallow
08-30-2005, 07:22 PM
Why are you people still here? I quit dreaming you all up hours ago.

Sternwallow
08-30-2005, 07:23 PM
I used to talk to myself, but I quit because I always knew what I was about to say.

Jennifer
08-30-2005, 07:30 PM
I used to talk to myself, but I quit because I always knew what I was about to say.
Exactly! That's what I said before! Philboid knowing the future as you do please type it here.

Tenspace
08-30-2005, 07:47 PM
Philboid, if we all exist in your mind, then the people in New Orleans send their thanks. :P

You're too cool to let something like that happen. That is my proof that you aren't a solipsist. The universe is ruled by an obviously angry God, who doesn't like transvestites and casinos.

Ten

Rhinoqulous
08-31-2005, 08:55 AM
Rhinoq: Excellent. I expect no less from my figments.
Damn, you work fast, Philboid. I'm serious, I'm a little weirded out by my wishing to Philboid and having the wish come true. Maybe we are only figments of his imagination. How about imagining a nice little watering hole within walking distance of my house? Please?

Philboid Studge
08-31-2005, 08:57 AM
How about imagining a nice little watering hole within walking distance of my house? Please?
Done and done!