Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Terminology Tuesday: Solipsism

Solipsism: The doctrine that a person has a direct awareness only of his or her own conscious state and is in some way cut off from the reality of other things. The extreme form of solipsism is ontological solipsism, which denies the reality of anything outside one's own mind. The denials that a person can know the external world or other minds can be viewed as forms of epistemological solipsism.1

1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 109.


Davitor said...

While solipsism is not compatible with the traditional religious view of God being separate from “Me”, it is directly opposite to Pantheism, the belief that everything is God and part of God. The difference is a matter of awareness that comes thru contemplative prayer or meditation. The pantheist would know they are part of everything in reality, which in fact is all energy in motion, as we are learning in Nuclear Science. The field of Science that is trying to find the one fundamental rule that explains everything. The ancient Indian philosophies as well as other ancient cultures advocate the notion that all matter including all humans is interconnected with not only one's immediate surroundings, but with everything in the universe. They maintain that the perception of independent beings is an illusion that leads to dissatisfaction or Samsara. The solipsist, however, would be more likely to put him- or herself in the center, as the only item of reality, with all other beings in reality illusions. For a pantheist God is “My Unconscious Mind" which lead to infinity or what cannot be described / for a solipsist God is “Me" which leads to time, temporal, worldly, secular, or what religion describes as sin which is death.

Seth said...

This sounds like Eastern philosophy ( I could be wrong). Solipsism sounds interesting. What would be the counter view of this thought?

Davitor said...

Well Solipsism is the opposite of Eastern philosophy or Pantheism, because it only considered the self as cut off from everything else.

Paul said...

Hi Seth,

Epistemological Solipsism is a form of skepticism. I would counter by asking why we need evidence for belief in the external world or other minds. We would say it is rational to believe without empirical evidence, because knowledge can come from other sources too.(eg God) I need to read lots more Epistemology.

Thanks for the comparison Davitor.

The Janitor said...

This dictionary defines "solipsism" in a way I've never heard before, equating it with indirect realism. But that seems like way too strong a definition. In fact Edward Feser seems to contrast solipsism and indirect realism in his book Philosophy of Mind.

I think there are good arguments for indirect realism (I hold to it myself) and it seem pretty easy to prove. On the other hand solipsism is more like omphalism: all the data can be consistent with it, but there's nothing we can point to which indicates it rather than it's contrary thesis.

The Janitor said...

And (ontological) solipsism isn't, as Davitor claims, the opposite of Pantheism because there is no "everything else"...

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