The personal horizon is, Valberg contends, the subject matter whose center each of us occupies, and which for each of us ceases with death. This ceasing to be presents itself solipsistically not just as the end of everything "for me" but as the end of everything absolutely. Yet since it is the same for everyone, this cannot be. Death thus confronts us with an impossible fact: something that cannot be but will be. (my emphasis)


In Valberg's view, my horizon is what this world would be internal to if this were all a dream. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_horizon

Am I to understand this to mean that death is ultimately impossible, since death is only a feature of my personal horizon? 'Dying' would be like waking into the 'public' horizon, which then becomes again my "personal horizon", ad infinitum presumably?


Can it be interpreted as scathing critique of Solipsism?

(While i'm not particularly insistent that Reality should make sense, something about Valberg's use of "death" across metaphysical hierarchies, and the subsequent "end of everything", puzzles me.)

  • Seems like the latter to me, and of a Cartesian disembodied mind. The Private Language Argument poibts out we come to be develooed minds through enfaging in the communal practice of language. – CriglCragl Oct 23 '18 at 12:40

It may seem from this fragment that Valberg is trying to argue for one thing or another by identifying a contradiction -- for example, that solipsism leads to an absurd conclusion, so solipsism must be false, and that's that. But if you read the book (which I recommend), this is certainly not what he means. (In fact he writes quite a bit about "the truth of solipsism" in the book.) He is rather interested in just identifying what he calls "extraphilosophical puzzles," which are based on "certain facts or truths grasped by us independently of philosophy." He doesn't claim to be able to resolve these puzzles. About death, he writes (p. 477, you can see this page on Google Books):

In the case of the temporal puzzle of death, the impossibility derives from the status of my horizon as outside time (whatever is in time is internal to my horizon). What is outside time cannot cease to be. Death, however, is precisely the ceasing to be of my horizon (11.3). We are confronted, then, by something incomprehensible: by the ceasing of what cannot cease to be, by an impossible fact.

He does not go on to then "solve" the puzzle, e.g., by exhibiting it as a mere paradox. Rather he wants to use the puzzles to give us deeper insight into the subject matter of the puzzles, including what he calls the personal horizon.

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