This post was at least partially inspired by a conversation with a certain someone. That someone will remain unnamed in order to protect him (or her) from violent retribution.
From time to time, solipsism rears its ugly head. For those not in the know, solipsism is basically the delusion in which you think you’re the center of the universe; or to be more precise, at least in the philosophical sense, it means that you think you are the only thing that is real – everything else is simply a product of your imagination. Your cat, your significant other, your job, everything that does, has, or will exist is simply a product of your awesome, awesome brain… though as much as hate to Godwin an argument so early on, I have to ask; why you be hatin’ on Jews so much. That’s right, if you’re the only real thing in the universe then the Holocaust is also a product of your diseased mind.
I realize that going there was something of a cheap shot, but I did it to demonstrate that solipsism is rather easily torn down, because despite what pretentious undergraduates (and people who misunderstand what Descartes was arguing when they should be focusing on the actual flaws in his argument) fail to understand is that it’s not difficult to determine that there are things external to our own minds going on. There’s even a technical term for it: Mataphysical Realism. Metaphysical realism is simply the idea that there is a world that is external to us, and that there is a way this world works.
This is true even if the world one perceives is created by a deceiving demon, one has been reduced to a brain in a jar, or one is trapped in an overhyped film. Even if the world is demonstrably an illusion we are still bound by metaphysical realism. I’m a strong supporter of phenomenology and intersubjectivity, as such I believe that we do, in a very real sense, create the world; that is to say there is no meaningful world beyond the world of human experience. Yet this doesn’t mean there is no world external to our experience. My existing doesn’t create gravity qua gravity, but it is what shapes how I am able to understand gravity.
I just realized I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this. I generally try to make these posts a bit more than short Philosophy 101 lectures, but really there’s not much to say about solipsism. It’s a rather amusing kind of arrogance and is easily deconstructed. So I suppose I shall simply end by saying don’t do it or you shall be mocked. Said mocking might involve pictures of cats.