Re: Everything is Just a Memory

From: <>
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000 11:58:56 -0800

Marchal <> writes:

> There is a widespread confusion between two kind of idealism.
> 1) There is solipsism, sometimes called "subjective idealism". It is
> (as James Higgo said) the doctrine that I am dreaming, that I am the only
> builder of reality, and all other people are just zombie.
> This is a ridiculous doctrine, although it can be used to illustrate
> some philophical point, like the concept of zombie.
> It is a ridiculous doctrine, because a doctrine is something you
> communicate, and why should someone try to communicate things to
> zombie. So solipsisme (like some strong form of positivism) is
> self-defeating.

I don't agree that this is a ridiculous doctrine, or that a believer in
solipsism should not communicate.

A solipsist may communicate with others, even if he believes they are
not conscious, in order to get information and ideas. In his model of
the world, certain information comes to him only through interaction
with the outside. If he is to work out his ideas in fullness, he can
best do so by interacting with the outside world. This may involve
bouncing ideas off of other people, and even trying to persuade them,
in order to test the quality of his ideas.

It is like a believer in more conventional philosophies who finds it
useful to write his ideas down on paper (or on a computer), in order to
clarify them and look for problems and new approaches. He doesn't think
the paper or computer is conscious, but this method of interacting with
the outside world can still be productive.

The real problem with solipsism, IMO, is that it fails to predict or
explain why the world is the way it is. Fine, I'm dreaming. Why?
Why am I dreaming that I live in a lawful universe? And why do I have
dreams within the dream, and those dreams are not of a lawful universe?
None of this is explained.

Contrast this with other approaches to philosophy, such as the all-
universes models we have been discussing. These approaches have the
potential to truly explain why the universe is lawful, and why we see
things in roughly the way they are. It might even turn out that our
very universe is, by some measures, the most probable one to exist.

We don't know for sure that things will work out this way, but at
least the potential is there. This makes it a very productive avenue
to explore. It is hard to see how solipsism could begin to provide this
kind of explanation.

Received on Sat Jan 15 2000 - 12:00:50 PST

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