Solipsism (/ˈsɒlɪpsɪzəm/ ⓘ SOLL-ip-siz-əm; from Latin solus 'alone', and ipse 'self')[1] is the philosophical idea that only one's 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.

Based on this, if one cannot prove that other minds exist for sure, does this imply you are a solipsist?

  • No. If one is not an absolutist proving "for sure" does not require "absolute certainty". And most people are pretty sure that other minds exist, and can prove it too, by a humanly reasonable standard, see SEP, Other Minds. As for "absolute certainty", nothing whatsoever can be proved with that, not even existence of one's own mind, so it is altogether moot. Those demanding that should be not solipsists but radical skeptics.
    – Conifold
    Commented Feb 1 at 14:28
  • @Conifold Most people are pretty sure that other minds exist not because it is something that someone sits down and tries to prove but rather because experience creates that intuition. How would one prove for sure that other minds exist? Lastly, certainty is a state of belief. So what do you mean to say that nothing can be proved with that? One can feel absolutely certain of anything but may fail to provide absolute proof/justification for the claim that leads you to feel certain. Commented Feb 1 at 14:41
  • "Certainty" is a vague word with multiple meanings in different contexts, but in the context of proving how one "feels" (psychological certainty) makes no difference. They either prove it by some standard or they do not. For how one proves existence of other minds, read the first linked article. Spoiler - it is not by experiencing intuitions.
    – Conifold
    Commented Feb 1 at 14:52
  • @Conifold “For how one proves existence of other minds” assumes that there’s some correct, godlike standard way of proving it. Hint: just because an article states it, doesn’t mean it’s standard. Standards are created by humans and there’s no way to definitively prove the existence of other minds (in my opinion, like all philosophy) apart from simply intuiting it or arguing that it’s a simpler explanation than other minds not existing mind independently. Commented Feb 1 at 22:52
  • One more thing. I didn’t even say that people try to prove it by experiencing intuition. I stated that most people don’t bother to try to prove something that is so obvious to them. There is a difference Commented Feb 1 at 23:00

3 Answers 3


Solipsism is a matter of belief not proof. I cannot prove in an absolute sense that the world around me is not a simulation, but I take that to be purely academic, and I believe the external world existed before I was born and will continue to exist after I die. So no, the fact that you cannot prove anything 'for sure' in an academic sense does not mean you are obliged to be a solipsist.


I guess I personally would phrase solipsism differently. Solipsism to me isn't just the belief that other people MIGHT be illustory, it's the position that they ARE. I wouldn't call someone a solipsist if they just had some small amount of doubt that everyone is real, I would call them a solipsist only if they claimed, "I am in fact the only real mind".

Maybe I've had a deep misunderstanding this whole time, but yeah, solipsism is a stronger claim to me than just having some doubt.


solipsism holds that there is no knowledge of anything outside one's own mind

It is the definition used by many philosophers, but it is extremely misleading for we may indeed believe that we don't know anything outside our own mind and yet believe that there are other minds.

Plus, this is the default position, not the weird or extreme philosophical position suggested by the term 'solipsism'.

The only reasonable definition of solipsism is that it is the belief that your mind is the only one. We normally believe that there are other minds since we don't have the choice--it is apparently hardwired in to our brain--,so it makes sense to ask what would happen if we could really believe that our mind is alone. Interesting question, but no one really believes that their mind is the only one outside pathological cases. Arguing for the sake of argument that other minds do not exist is just silly. You are obviously not going to convince other minds, and you also obviously don't need to make your argument public to convince yourself.

if one cannot prove that other minds exist for sure, does this imply you are a solipsist?


Proving a conclusion does not guaranty that it is true. It just proves that if the premises are true, then the conclusion is true. And we usually don't know whether our premises are true, so we don't know whether our "proven" conclusion is true.

Plus, that you cannot prove a conclusion doesn't mean that you believe that it is false. Ask mathematicians about conjectures.

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