Solipsism

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All the inclinations together... constitutes self-regard, (solipsismus). This is either the self-love that consists in an excessive fondness for oneself (philautia), or satisfaction with oneself (arrogantia). The former is called particularly selfishness; the latter self-conceit.
Immanuel Kant

Solipsism 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.

Quotes[edit]

  • Solipsism... is sometimes spoken of as the philosophical term for insanity. It certainly seems to stand for metaphysics run mad, or, in politer language, for subjective idealism carried to extremes. The solipsist claims to be the sole inhabitant of the universe, and all manifestations to the contrary are merely subjective states of his own. As with so many other mentally unbalanced persons, his cosmos is all ego.
    • Percy F. Bicknell, "The Solace of Solipsism," Christian Register (Aug. 19, 1915) Vol. 94, p. 775.
  • The argument in favor of Solispsism, put most simply, is as follows: "I cannot transcend experience, and experience is my experience. From this it follows that nothing beyond myself exists; for what is experience is its (the self's) states."
    The argument derives its strength, in part, from false theory, but to a greater extent perhaps, from thoughtless obscurity.
  • Solipsism need not be positive, it need not assume any burden of proof. The defender of solipsism may proceed as follows: "You mistake my purpose; I am not trying to prove the truth of solipsism. I say merely that the situation is ambiguous and capable of two explanations, and I see nothing but sentiment which obliges me to reject the solipsistic one. ...logically we are left with a sort of negative solipsism on our hands which we can not get rid of. Actually we simply toss it away. We can not stand that kind of suggestion. Our whole being rebels. We simply banish solipsism out of court. But I submit that this is not a logical nor a philosophical way of escape.
  • Bertrand Russell remarked that he was cured of solipsism for life by receiving a letter from a woman saying, 'I'm so glad you think there may be something in solipsism. I wish there were more of us.'
  • What is hell? Hell is oneself.
    Hell is alone, the other figures in it
    Merely projections. There is nothing to escape from
    And nothing to escape to. One is always alone.
  • W. T. Krug follows Kant's usage in identifying solipsism with moral egoism ('making one's own self the end of all one's actions')... This identification is still repeated as late as 1890 by F. Kirchner. Meanwhile, some time during the 19th cent., solipsism was transferred from moral or practical egoism to theoretical (either epistemological or metaphysical) egoism, i.e. to the theory that I can know nothing but my own ideas and that I and my ideas are all that exists. This view was called simply 'egoism' by Wolf (who treats it, rightly, as an extreme species of idealism), Mendelssohn, Tetens, and other 18th cent. writers.
    • R. F. A. Hornlé, "Solipsism," Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics: Sacrifice-Sudra (1921) ed., James Hastings, John Alexander Selbie, Louis Herbert Gray, p. 679.
  • Kant has said that there are some questions which should never be asked, and there is apostolic authority for the injunction "to avoid foolish questions." Only the fool has said in his heart that he is alone in the universe; but since philosophy has seriously raised the question of the existence of my neighbor and of the way in which I may come to know him, it may be not without interest to notice (i) how the problem has emerged, (ii) the importance of the problem for modern philosophy, and (iii) some leading solutions that have been offered.
    • William Hallock Johnson, "Does My Neighbor Exist?" The Princeton Theological Review (1916) Vol. 14, p. 529, citing Mind, N. S., (1909) p. 171.
  • All the inclinations together (which can be reduced to a tolerable system, in which case their satisfaction is called happiness) constitutes self-regard, (solipsismus). This is either the self-love that consists in an excessive fondness for oneself (philautia), or satisfaction with oneself (arrogantia). The former is called particularly selfishness; the latter self-conceit.
  • Solipsism has no real ground to stand on and the pragmatist is the very last in the line of those who may be accused of even seeming to have taken, or to have tried to take, his stand there.
    • Alfred H. Lloyd, "Radical Empiricism and Agnosticism," Mind (1908) ed., G. F. Stout, Vol. XVII, p. 187.
  • If I felt reckless or strong enough to shoulder the responsibility, I might not object to a solipsism that made me the all by emphasising the inevitable relation of experience to an experient; the trouble comes when other experients claim a monopoly of this relation in the face of conflicting claims, and propose to reduce me to incidents in their cosmic nightmare.
  • [Solipsism is] the doctrine that all existence is experience, and that there is only one experient. The Solipsist thinks that he is the one. ...that the 'absolute idealist' is a Solispsist need only be barely stated. ...He is a Solipsist because he believes that the Absolute is the sole experiment, and that he is himself the incarnate Absolute."
    • Friedrich Schiller (ca. 1780) as quoted by William Hallock Johnson, "Does My Neighbor Exist?" The Princeton Theological Review (1916) Vol. 14, p. 533, citing Mind, N. S., (1909) p. 171.

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