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Solipsism

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Photo credit: Seth Anderson

Photo credit: Seth Anderson

Solipsism

This is the philosophical position that only the subject exists and all impressions of others and the outside world are illusory.

While many dismiss solipsism as an extreme or strange view, others say it is logically impossible to prove or disprove.

If one believes, however, that God is good and, as such, would not deceive the subject with a chimerical world peopled by phantom others, one would likely reject solipsism.

Although many philosophers maintain that solipsism cannot be proved or disproved, probably because they’ve been taught this in a university course or a philosophy book, there is another way to look at the problem. And this way doesn’t necessarily need the idea of God to reject solipsism on the grounds of it being an impractical and bad way of living.

Basically, we can ask: What if solipsism is false? In the face of this uncertainty, doesn’t it make ethical sense to live as if others are real?

Some have likened solipsism to the Asian concept of maya (Sanskrit = illusion, deception).

Maya is the belief in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain philosophies that the changing, material world isn’t real or is only relatively real. But the meaning of the concept of maya has been debated among different schools for centuries, making its comparison to solipsism somewhat problematic.

On the Web:

» Descartes, René

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