The Art Of Solipsism... Understanding the Solipsist Viewpoint

Solipsism has been defined as the theory that only the self exists. If "only the self exists" were true, one would be relegated to a world of one's own making; yet, there are many occurrences, surprises, and mysteries in one's life. Since the origin of these anomalies does not appear to be from inside us, they must be from outside us. The general conclusion is that we are entities existing within an "other than self" which is vibrant, existent, and ever present. In the traditional sense, the solipsist would believe that when they close their eyes, the universe visually disappears; but, in the broader sense of the solipsist viewpoint, it is important to recognize that 'for you' the universe does visually disappear, and 'for you' that is important in assessing one's thinking.
The "solipsist viewpoint" is everyone's viewpoint. It is the viewpoint of singular, unobstructed, direct experience in the broadest sense of the word. It is an idiosyncratic, dynamic presentation of consciousness representing one's existence itself. When one studies the maturational development of a human being from birth to adulthood, you are defining the development of that person's solipsist viewpoint. The idea that that which is inside one's self, including all things inside that represent things outside, can only be "proven" to one's self by one's self may seem a tautology, but is exemplified by "I think, there fore I am". All the rest of philosophy must start here, if one can reach this space in one's mentality.

As an intellectual doctrine, the way most people have come to understand it, solipsism is immediately dismissed with no value except perhaps in historical terms. However, the solipsist viewpoint, as an exposition of pure subjectivism, the entirety of one's experience as seen totally from one's subjective point of view divorced from everything else, it has enormous analytical value to the extent that materialism represents the exposition of the pure objective viewpoint. In this presentation we will recognize the objective, other things and people, only to the extent that the subjective perceives them. I want it to be clear that one reason that analysis in the solipsist viewpoint is important is as a limiting extreme in opposition to materialism, out there, where most people normally function.

In the case of the solipsist viewpoint all subjective and objective knowledge is considered a manifestation of, and subject to, the analysis of the cognitive individual. In analyzing the solipsist viewpoint, all considerations only lie within the cognitive individual - the one cognizant of the circumstances. It is only through processes of deductive inference that one can discover the actual analysis of their perceptions. Conversely, in the case of extreme materialism, all subjective and objective circumstances are considered manifestations of objective circumstances apart from the individual.

To start this process we can refer to a definition of what we perceive as the objective as the "non-subjective". We do this because it's certainly true that the origin of most non-subjective circumstances lie outside us, but that's really only because the bulk of objectively definable circumstances do, and not because the non-subjective (that which has been perceived as objective) requires, or precludes, such a thing out of necessity. The great barrier to this analytical attempt is that all experience, including that which is labeled as non-subjective, is contained and analyzed within our subjective selves. So, we can't expect to totally vitiate the solipsist viewpoint and emerge into an absolute realistic, non-subjective world; even though, approaching this state of mind is ultimately the value of the solipsist investigation.

In relation to solipsist viewpoint, all experience might be broken down into that which is controlled (things one does) and that which is not controlled (things that happen to us). Further, these categories might be subdivided into that which is considered inside or "subjective", and that which is considered outside or "non-subjective". This results in four categories:
1) subjective-controlled, 2) subjective-not controlled,
3) non-subjective-controlled, and 4) non-subjective-not controlled.

It is interesting to bring forth concepts and ideas to try to sort them in these categories.

Even if we are sentient beings in an objective environment, everyone, whether one admits it or not, still verifies their knowledge primarily on their personal experience with those sources which are subjectively judged as authoritative. This is how we learn from reading, for instance. Any of the following statements could be considered absurd, or not, as judged by the individual's perception of the authoritative nature of their source: "the universe is controlled by many intelligent, supernatural beings" (the polytheist), "the universe was designed and created by one intelligent, unseen being" (the monotheist), "the universe and all laws of nature sprang from a singularity" (the big bang theorist), "water springs from nothing in an explosion" (that might be absurd unless you were a chemist). As we approach information closer to our own experience: "all life needs water", "to be alive, one must be breathing", or especially "when I am happy, I smile", we become more convinced of it's veracity. And yet, conversely, it is the veracity of one's experience that is challenged whenever one questions from the solipsist viewpoint.

Since the introduction of the scientific method with its observational repeatability, reliability, and consistency, and its media of interaction and sharing among mind/brains, one can be lulled into a comfortable position of imagining that everything, with the exception of just a few concepts, is already worked out. However, one will find that where one draws the analytical line between these subjective and the non-subjective categories is still another question. An important aspect of the solipsist inquiry is the individual's assessment of the nature and origin of their operating/behavioral precepts. These can be broken down through deconstruction, or skepticism, of the authoritative value placed on the sources, or origins, of one's own ideology.

The category of origins is often determined by
1) someone "out there" who has guided one's life, either on an involuntary basis, due to their authority, or a voluntarily basis, due to one's respect for their authority,
2) one's own understanding and acceptance through some education of what has been perceived to be true of both subjective and non-subjective nature,
3) the determination and comparison of one's present precepts with what one has accepted to be true in the past (In point of fact, in #3, one often has no immediate way to decide where, exactly, the origins can and do lie, how important they are, and what recourse does one have if one dismisses them. This effort described in #3 can be exceedingly traumatic and life altering), or
4) one's own conclusions, either true or erroneous, based on direct experience, and the resulting logical inferences.

Unless one considers the solipsist viewpoint seriously, one may not even comprehend that there is such a viewpoint. I realize this may seem like a rather fine distinction. However it's important to grasp that inter-human discrepancies regarding this viewpoint have been completely misunderstood throughout history and have led to all kinds of pernicious conflicts and misinterpretations. When we extend beyond our direct experience, there is danger of mythology that sets people against each other. As long as these diverse analytical misunderstandings are apparently required for the human condition, the pernicious conflicts and misinterpretations are, unfortunately, bound to continue.

What I'm saying, here, is that those things which are perceived as non-subjective do not have to be objective for that reason. It is possible for something subjective to be misinterpreted as non-subjective. When addressing things from the solipsist viewpoint, one might think that they are non-subjective things because they have or can have objective perceptions according to their circumstances. However, it is also true that they may not actually represent what one might otherwise think. The issue of solipsist analysis is whether they are what we think them to be.. or whether or not they are something else.

Once precepts are determined as questionably absurd, it should be noted, they need not be deleted, for one might find these ideas to be a pillar of one's cognitive construction or a door to something later to be determined as true. The first step is to merely identify and label them for future consideration.

Alden Bacuzmo
The Realistic Idealist
fertile soil for thought, A Measure of Truth