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We can say as much as we like that solipsism is irrefutable, but isn't that a reason to worry? Personally, it scares me that I can be left alone in a meaningless world. If solipsism has passed you by, tell me why you are calm about it.

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    I learned the meanings of words like "proof," "refutable," "self," "mind," "other," and so on through my environment. So I take myself to have something like "direct perception that" there is an "external world." This might be somewhat dogmatic, but it is a dogmatism that costs me nothing and gains others the world I would try to take from them if I were a solipsist-who-was-also-mistaken (and then even if solipsism is somehow not mistaken). Aug 18, 2023 at 19:29
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    I am calm about it because it is utter nonsense. Aug 18, 2023 at 21:39
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    Because of the Private Language Argument en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_language_argument which demolishes the idea. Whether other beings are part of our minds or we are part of someone else's like say in an 'ancestor simulation' is irrelevant, we require intersubjectivity to learn being human, which means we can't be fully human without others (see children raised by wolves, & otherwise deprived of human contact, & the impacts of sensory deprivation & solitary confinement)
    – CriglCragl
    Aug 18, 2023 at 23:19
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    In some versions of solipsism there’s no window of the self through which any harmful interaction or vice can be made possible, everything happens is self synchronization and coordination, so the self doesn’t need to worry… Aug 19, 2023 at 3:35
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    You have a birthday. What does that mean? More fundamentally you have a mother. What does that mean??
    – Rushi
    Aug 20, 2023 at 16:35

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First, I believe this question conflates solipsism and nihilism. Solipsism is the worldview that nothing outside the mind can be assured to exist; nihilism is the worldview that all human ethics and behavior is fundamentally empty and meaningless. There's some overlap between the two, but one worldview does not necessarily entail the other. One can be a solipsists who finds meaning in an unsure world, or a nihilist who is sure of the world but thinks everyone else is deluding themselves.

A mind's an odd thing...

But that aside, the fundamental problem here is the fear of uncertainty. The evolution of that fear is something like:

  • We want to do what's right and good, which means...
  • We have to know what is right and good to do, which means...
  • We need to understand how to evaluate and revise what we know, which means...
  • We become responsible for our own understanding.

Now, conventional (non-philosophical) approaches to this problem fall into two broad categories: moralism and hedonism. In moralism one adopts 'something' as authoritative — be it a set of tenets, a god, a political or religious leader, a principle, etc — and allows that authority to take responsibility for our understanding. That cuts the fear off at the root because it allows the authority to determine what is right and good, and the only problem one faces then is how to interact with the authority when we fail to live up to its expectations. Hedonism, by contrast, abandons any abstract notions of 'good' and 'right' and merely holds that if we are happy and those around us are happy, that is right and good enough. Existential dread is replaced with conventional social fears, which are much easier to handle.

Those don't really work on a philosophical level. For philosophically minded people moralism is too dogmatic and rigid, while hedonism is too aimless and ambiguous. Now, while there are a lot of interesting philosophical arguments made on this issue, it seems the common thread in all of them is that we must take responsibility for our capacity to make meaning. If the world seems meaningless it's because we made it that way; if the world fells like we're alone it's because we chose that. 'Meaninglessness' and 'aloneness' are the meanings we have created for the world, and if we don't like them we can make different meanings. By being afraid to make a choice, we make a choice, and every moment we can choose again.

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I feel there are some interesting nuances here. How does empiricism account for subjectivity? As a habit, it is purely a habit for instance that we use a personal pronoun like “I”; so that I am a contraction of my habits or that they enfold me. The self is the result of introjection or incorporation — a vital assemblage of things we love, things we “control”; this is a picture of desire. In some ways solipsism is refuted by the fact that our wishes are not immediately realized; achievement in the world takes time and care, patience but also a system; and indeed a certain life and flexibility in the system; perhaps above all a robust and resilient method.

So in order to achieve transformations in our environment, we are compelled to investigate the dual system of the mind and the world, which requires a method; a method at least to differentiate subjects and objects, where in reality there are no bright lines; or rather: everything is subject to something else, a chain of causation stretching back into the infinite reaches of the past. But the self has more than a past; it has a history of self-modifications, a memory that stretches towards the present.

The self is transient and temporal, an intense psychological force pulling us towards the future and towards action in the world and on ourselves, towards open-ended transformations of our environment and our minds; life is endless differentiation which cannot be circumscribed in a single dichotomy of subject and environment, since the elements of living forms are circularly assembled, in a continuous communication with the environment. There is no outer limit to our subjective experience; it cannot be circumscribed except transcendentally (living creatures will experience time as spatiotemporal dynamism).

If solipsism were true it seems there would be limits on our experience; but the world and the transcendental ideas exceed our subjectivity — they seem to us continuous, unbound, unforeseeable. The contingency of reality, the clear fact of our true lack of control — this makes solipsism appear a kind of psychological salve against the threat of chaos. The self is a defensive mechanism in this sense: by assembling habits and opinions, we protect ourselves from chaos outside of us, but thereby erect a protective screen, like a firmament painted on the sky, which obscures the real depth of the cosmos beyond and comforts us with closure.

Now from a critical point of view, all we ever see are phantasms or representations which are not themselves the true reality beneath or “before” appearance. The real force of thought is not a sensation but the “patience” or time extracted from it. In spatiotemporal dynamisms we catch sight of the transcendental ideas.

From another point of view, time is inevitably energetic decomposition; the breakdown and recreation of systems of thought; the collapse and re-extraction of perceptions from a flow of signs. Literature is the history of the self-modifications of mind, of spirit in a Hegelian sense; and it has an inherently transindividual character. A letter is in a way a refutation of the solipsist.

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    I find the ideas here interesting. It seems that solipsism is refuted by the same arguments as God: if I was essentially 'god', why would things ever go other than what I would wish? I am apparently not omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, so I am not God, and neither is God.
    – Scott Rowe
    Aug 20, 2023 at 22:50
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It's simple. It's a view that belongs to GOD/YHVH. As S/He is "all that is", then solipsism is the normal state of things.

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    I really want to believe that if solipsism is, then it is God's :) Sep 12, 2023 at 11:08
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I will paraphrase an olde philosophical saying.

Russell exclaimed to someone: I got a letter from a solipsist the other day, expressing some surprise that there weren't more solipsists.

I believe it is quite a maligned put down of solipsism, though there are of course no other "solipsists", and if you approve of other people being a solipsists, I do think that is self refuting (unless you're pretending to, perhaps to speak to Russell).

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  • Mr. Russell has a vivid imagination, to have "other solipsists" in his personal dream of all existence!
    – Scott Rowe
    Aug 20, 2023 at 22:51
  • dunno what you're getting at @ScottRowe all i meant is that concern for others believe is perhaps always feigned if we are solipsists
    – user67302
    Aug 21, 2023 at 1:41
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Solipsism is NOT irrefutable:

  • The most basic argument against it is this: It's much more difficult to explain why and how there would be convincing simulations or semblances of other people than to believe that those people actually exist.

  • Let's say however, that the universe has been simulated deliberately in order to fool you--Descartes' evil genius scenario, or the malign AI of the Matrix movies, or you're in a video game, or a simulation, or some other crafted reality. In that case, you're still not alone in the universe, someone else exists who is behind all the other things you interact with.

  • But what if the universe is created solely in your own mind? You're asleep and dreaming. Or you're a deity playing a giant game of solitaire. Aren't you, in that case, alone in the universe? The response in this case is a little harder to wrap your mind around, but I would say that, in this scenario, the YOU that is you cannot be identified with the Creator of the world you're in. You are not the dreamer, but the dream. And in that case, the other dream figures have as valid a reality as you have. So you are not alone, it is the dreamer who is alone. Or to put it another away, you are not God, therefore you are not alone in the universe.

It's possible you might still find these scenarios to be filled with existential horror--or find little comfort in consolations that still allow for the world to be faked or unreal. I follow Plato and Descartes in saying that true goodness is the one thing that can't be faked. Love exists and is real, even in the fakest of universes. So even if your world is a dream, if you love and are loved, you are operating at the highest level of reality. To love is to be in relationship with God, and no malign force or delusion can prevent you from that.

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Why don't you (personally) worry about solipsism?

Because I view that there are other brains rather than minds. I view that there is matter rather than nothingness. And even if there aren't other brains, there is information that exists that seems to have the ability to socialize.

Oh, sure. I could be very wrong. I might be a brain-in-a-vat experiencing false people but who are digital representations of humans. But I don't let that bother me too much, as I am lucky enough to have no choice (libertarian choice) about the matter except what social interactions the forces of nature cause to happen in my life. And, as I might be a digital being myself made of information, it seems quite racist to be stuck on the notion of refusing to socialize with others if their status of sentience cannot be established.

Mostly, what helps me cope is realizing as I can't decipher the truth of the matter and learning to be calm through suspension of judgment ("epoche") while letting the forces of nature move me through life.

Solipsism bothered me a lot when I started learning philosophy. The matter was never resolved for me. I learned, however, that the more sophisticated stance is to take is that of a skeptic without certainty to be established.

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