Solipsism

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Bowser, Oct 27, 2017.

  1. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    It's an idea I've touched before, but in general it holds that nothing is certain other than the "self." When I reflect on my dreams, they are as real as any moment while awake. I am amazed that my mind can create a story without any effort on my part. It just appears while I slumber. The notion that we live in a dream is a concept that I have trouble accepting, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.

    www.sriramanamaharshi.org
     
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  3. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    I can't recall ever having a dream that was as real as any moment while awake.
    Be a friend who says his dreams are like that, but mine are always sepia-coloured, I tend to observe in a mix of 1st and 3rd person, and I can never see minute detail like words.
    So I could never accept that my daily life is but a dream, as my dreams are a distinctly different experience.

    A brain in a vat / Matrix style of thing, though... yes, a fascinating proposition, but if we can never get behind the curtain to the "ultimate reality" of our position then I find it not worth putting too much effort in it.
    I find it an interesting philosophical path to explore, but not one to travel down permanently, so to speak.
     
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  5. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

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    And have you found this to be the case in each of the simulations you have lived through?

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  7. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    I can only conclude that they must wipe my memories after each one.
    Maybe that's where my weirder dreams come from... A slightly defective mind-wipe!

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  8. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

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    I wonder, if we are in a simulation, if I make the same mistakes in every run through. Just can't get to level 87!
     
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I believe that I have two very different kinds of dreams. One are experiential dreams where I seem to be someplace doing something, the other are problem-solving dreams where I'm struggling with some more abstract problem.

    I can't typically remember my dreams for very long after I wake up. They fade away. I do remember my impression of them in that short interval. They typically don't make a whole lot of sense and include huge non-sequiturs. The problem-solving dreams have never seemed to make much sense that I recall, and in the experiential dreams I might be one place and then suddenly another. In one dream, there was a door in my house and when I stepped through it I wasn't in California any longer, I was in Germany.

    To the extent that I can remember them, my dreams seem to be built around scraps of memory from my waking life. The problem-solving dreams usually have something to do with something I've been thinking about. The experiential dreams recall experiences I've actually had in life. I'm at work, I'm at the beach, I'm with somebody I know. But in the dream, these scraps are thrown together seemingly randomly. And interestingly, there seems to be some kind of process at work trying to create a narrative out of it, something that links all of it together.

    When I'm awake and can direct my critical rational faculties to recalling dream content (that ability quickly faces) it never makes much sense.

    So dreams only seem to me to mimic real-life experiences when my critical faculties aren't active. When they revive upon waking, the plausibility of the dream experience collapses (as does my ability to recall it).
     
  10. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    A dream's avatar or POV isn't normally in control of anything. It's the non-personal brain, that is transcendent or prior in rank to the contents of the dream's immediate phenomenal environment and the exhibited personhood, which is actually generating and poorly regulating the events. The waking "self" is also a product of that brain, so that the dream avatar and the waking self becoming conflated in a lucid type dream doesn't really change the fundamental agency in charge behind the scenes.

    Similarly in solipsism one's apparent embodied "self" would only enjoy the privilege of being another point of view for the objective "world manifestation", and otherwise would be just as powerless, fragile and short-lived as the rest of humankind that was limited to being observed from outside themselves (as objects; i.e., no verification of whether they have personal experiences or not). The identity and nature of the ultimate "dreamer" in solipsism would thereby be unknown, and could just as much be maintaining a multitude of co-existing avatars as that single one which is immorally deeming itself to be the sole POV.

    The ethical considerations enter the picture from the standpoint that society or a social organization -- in lacking any capacity for having experiences like its biological components, or in being the solipsist dreamer itself -- is inherently going to be against any notion of solipsism that would deny it authority and something more than superficial existence. The rules of that people collective or its moral urgency accordingly mandate trashing such ideas, so that it's a possibility purely applicable to the private entertainment of the individual. But as scrutinized above, the "I" engaging in such thoughts would be temporary appearance as well, like the avatar in an ordinary dream. Not the literal, metempirical agency supposedly responsible for the grand hallucination.

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  11. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    I quite often remember my dreams, and they generally have very little association with my life. They usually cobble together from nothing. Occasionally someone in my life will play a role, but that is rare. My dreams, however, are not as linear as is life--events don't flow in a logical pattern. Pretty much anything is possible in a dream. A curious thing though: I've always been human in my dreams. I've never been a wolf, bird or any other creature in my dreams--always human.
     
  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    What do you mean by this specifically?

    Do you mean that, upon reflection (once awake), your dreams still seem so real that you might conceivably confuse them with reality?

    I've never had a dream that was so vivid that upon waking, I could still not be sure it wasn't a dream.

    Sure, while in the dream, one thinks it seems real. But that's because the critical-analysis executive functions of the brain are shut down.
    One can as easily say the same thing when under the influence of an hallucinogen.
     
  13. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    Within the dream I'm not aware that I'm dreaming. I am submerged within the dream, and it is the reality of my experience. I once had a dream that I could fly. I didn't question it; I simply had a great time.
     
  14. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Purely to explore this for recreational purposes...

    In a dream there's often amnesia, ranging from selective to wholesale, concerning the waking life. As well as new memories adapted for the circumstances of that simulated environment -- or memories that revise themselves to accommodate inconsistencies that crop up. So the sleeper's avatar is at the mercy of the dream's standards (they become the norm) when it comes to evaluating affairs.

    Thus there might be a possibility that if there was yet another level for our supposedly non-dreaming state of consciousness to "wake-up" from itself, then after re-acquiring the memories / knowledge and standards for that higher realm, we'd look back on this collective "dream" and realize how erratic it was in contrast to the regulating conventions we'd forgotten. As well as become aware of all the editing (retconning) that had been going on in this world to make it seem events were coherent overall.

    But while still in this virtual reality (or oneiro-cosmos), the very idea of the above would seem absurd because we've got nothing but what the internal story allows and conforms to as a measure or guide for what makes sense. The very notion of a "higher logic or revelation" that would expose the behavior and nature of this world as really being semi-gibberish seems impossible.

    As an alternative, it could be that only the bottom-most types of experiences featuring an external environment are poorly regulated. Which is to say, once reaching or returning to this particular nested level and beyond, the unfolding process of events starts becoming inter-consistent, the framework of these phenomenal continuums starts holding together well.

    The issue of lucid dreams -- where the supposed genuine waking self becomes conflated with one's avatar in the dream to the extent that matter can even be controlled by will, might have comparison to either enlightenment / revealed knowledge or becoming a "superhero" in religious folklore. Barring the unlikelihood of powerful prophets and temporarily embodied gods being born to human mothers having literally occurred in the past, the latter is yet to be witnessed.

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  15. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    The impermanence of reality seems to hint that reality, itself, is not real. The cosmos is in a constant state of flux, ever-changing, never standing still. The one and only thing that does hold steady is awareness, the seer--the one that stands behind the mask, experiencing all of it.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm simply toying with the idea. I do find it interesting. I do appreciate you mentioning lucid dreaming. I've had a couple. My interaction within a dream in such a state was limited by my imagination. Where my mind had created the stage, the best I could do was test the environment.
     
  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. That's what I was getting at.
    It's not that it seems so real, it's that your ability to objectively analyze its realness is severely compromised.
    When you're drugged, you think everything that's happening is real, because you are bereft of the executive functions that you normally use to incur doubt.
    Only afterward, do you say 'Duh. That guy had the head of a cobra - of course it wasn't real. I just never thought to ask myself that during the dream/drug state.'
     
  17. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Thing is, as soon as we acknowledge that our perception of reality is both incomplete and distorted, we see that it is not reality's shortcoming, but our own.
     
  18. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    I've never hallucinated while under the influence, though I have experienced an altered state of mind while under the influence. I can't comment directly to your proposition because objective reality where my senses are involved have always been a constant, even while under the influence.

    The mind does try to make sense of what it seems to see. The other night I was puffing on a smoke at the back door when suddenly I thought I saw a critter trying to climb the tree several feet from where I was standing. I was a bit startled, but when I gave it a closer look I discovered it was a weed being pushed against the base of the tree by the wind.

    The mind is a creative force--maybe more than we are willing to admit. Our dreams are an example of its ability to create.
     
  19. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    The mind is the aperture through which our perceptions operate. It always falls back on the mind, which is the point being made by the sages.
     
  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Neither have I, but I have it on good authority.
     
  21. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    Many, many years ago I supervised a sheltered janitorial contract, working with people who suffered various mental health issues. The people with whom I worked were stable for the larger part, but it was still heartbreaking because some were fighting a constant battle with their personal demons. It was not uncommon for them to hear voices or see things that simply were not there.
     
  22. Sam Poole Registered Member

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    Solipsism requires the other to exist in order to formulate the idea that the other is really only themselves. On the level at which the idea is conceptualized, the self in a body, this is false, since the other exists to them, the idea leads to a world view where a person has uncontrollable and unattached parts of themselves running about the universe. This is a view that is out of alignment with the concept of self-hood itself, which is a requirement to formulating the idea of solipsism. On any level where solipsism is potentially true the idea couldn't be formed since there is no other and therefore the idea can't exist. In either case, whether false for the person in question, or not an option to the entity in question, it can be said that solipsism as an idea pertinent to anyone capable of pondering it is untrue.
     
  23. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Didn't notice back then or now any immediate signpost on the page to something about solipsism.

    http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.de/2010/04/swami-siddheswaranandas-views-on.html

    There are several points of interest that can be commented on here. Let me start with the first sentence: "The philosophical outlook of Maharshi tends very often to be confused with that of solipsism or its Indian equivalent, drishti-srishti-vada, which is a sort of degenerated idealism." [...] Drishti-srishti-vada is the theory that the world is projected and created by the person who sees it. Bhagavan did teach this, and I am surprised that the swami was not aware of it. [...]

    Considering what it means in the West (when not in epistemological / methodological contexts), Eastern philosophies should probably just avoid conflating their _X_'s with the word.

    Barring modifiers like "collective" being appended to it as in the novel *1984*, solipsism is a doctrine of one mind. But the "one mind" isn't permitted to be a world-ego of many fragmented points of view (each with their own personalities and agendas). Only the person holding the belief is granted the special privilege of having an interior life of phenomenal events parading by, with other humans and biological organisms only abiding as appearances. Mere things who exist outside themselves, minus private attributes of their own, with that oneiro-spatial interdependence of theirs somehow converging together into an ultimate relationship to the avatar body of the privileged Lone Dreamer (or whatever exotic entity would lurk behind the solipsist's facade at another metaphysical level).

    One could make the case that mind-independent objects (MIO) have never been encountered. Since "mind" treated as generic category includes not just phenomenal properties -- but also all the abstract concepts which activities of intellect and measurement have invented over time (that are expressed by similarly created languages and symbolic systems). Thereby the fabled "mind-independent object" becomes an empty item devoid of known characteristics in its native state, if it is truly to be kept free from any mental contamination whatsoever. Objects that are blank placeholders may have about as much status on an ontological hierarchy chart as the influence of invisible gods.

    However, it might be contended that the metaphysical denomination (of MIO) above simply misconceived what it was originally hand-waving at -- i.e., not referencing a style of existence at all. But instead just objects which were immune to a specific trait like "will", as executed by a concrete or particular instantiation of mind (brain, robot-AI, space-alien organ, etc). Objects that are "will-independent" -- which ignore the simple mental wishes of an individual conscious agent -- then become countless in number with respect to those populating the extrospective half of experience (external world). The Moon in a daydream is an object which one can manipulate by sheer wishing, but not the public Moon featured in outer manifestations which everybody has perceptual access to.

    Even solipsism has to respect the will-independence of the external world (the non-metaphysical version of the latter which it does acknowledge is given). If that empirical reality is an internally coherent dream, the latter's "storyline" nevertheless does not grant a believer in solipsism the capacity via bare desire to control and interfere with the outer regularities of the Dream anymore than it allows other human objects to do so.

    So solipsism is at least not about obliterating will-independent objects, but is still a thought orientation against other individual minds. Is against the bodies of other people having anything beyond their superficial, outwardly observed conscious and sapient behavior. Some sub-species of eliminative materialism might even agree with solipsism as far as declaring qualia and other psychological properties a myth (though it would include the solipsist's own claimed experiences as well in that denial).

    Solipsism is usually incompatible with either a society's self-importance or the worldview of that society which outputs ethical schemes to keep the community and its people components organized and survival-fixated (which is to say, it's politically incorrect for all people except the solipsist to be the equivalent of constantly changing, cardboard props). Thus the end result is an estranged doctrine that never belongs to the crowd, though endlessly amused by it.

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    Last edited: Feb 22, 2018

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