When I was a little girl, we (me and my siblings) would rush back home after school to go to the room in our house where the bulky white desktop installed with Windows98 (or was it 95-94...) was kept. We would turn on the computer (that use to take some million years to turn on) and start one of the few things we enjoyed doing on our big bulky machine. We would start up the game we loved, it was called Road Rush or something like that. It was a Motorbike racing game and we were obsessed with it.
Okay, I will stop now!
We would take turns to be the player and spectators. My younger sister would often play longer turns and thus, I often got to be the viewer for longer durations. I used to cheer for her and tell her to go faster and faster. The thing was, as she went faster I could see the pixels appear and make up the surroundings. I could see mountains being created, bridges being built and buildings being erected out of nothing and it was fascinating to see. I often wondered what if real life was like that. If we went real fast could we somehow crash into the forming of the world? In the game, it was simply about us and it was only our screen that was the display. Everything else was just algorithms.
Last year, as I was sitting in the passenger seat while my younger sister drove the car, I was navigating the way with the help of google maps. At that instant, I recalled how comparable our game and adult life was at that movement. I reminded her about the game as we drove, and we chatted about the Good-Old-Days. Thinking back, I am certain that driving fast in a real life scenario would not make the building and bridge ahead appear out of nothing. Seemingly, the real world is not based only on our "display" or conscious for that matter or is it?
We all know the empirically proven theory (or should I say as per our current understanding) of the universe, life, and consciousness. That universe emerged out of a big bang about 14 billion years ago, Our solar system came into existence around 4.6 billion years ago, The earth somehow got a life form that evolved to become human over years. So, here we are reading blogs on some two-dimensional screen. It is such a comforting thought that we have loved once around to love and care for. However, let us assess a contrasting theory of philosophy called Solipsism.
Solipsism is the belief that, because we can only verify our own experiences and no-one else's, only the self is real.
Is reality an illusion, are we in some kind of a "Matrix" like simulation? Is life and surrounding only a feigning that exists inside only our brain? Our experiences are subjective. What we experience is from our perspective and we cannot undergo the experience of others. So can we for sure say that other people have same thoughts and perception? or How can we say that other people have thoughts at all? or taking it to the subjective extreme, Do they even exist? Solipsism arises due to the Egocentric Predicament
Egocentric Predicament is the problem of not being able to view reality outside of our own perceptions. All worldly knowledge takes the form of mental representations that our mind examines in different ways. Direct contact with reality cannot be made outside of our own minds; therefore, we cannot be sure reality even exists.
It is known that visual and audial hallucinations can be so "realistic" for many people suffering from schizophrenia and other delusional disorders that they cannot differentiate between reality and fragment of their imagination. This somehow implies that a human Brain is capable of such realistic visuals and sounds. I have never hallucinated but I have often experienced Sleep Paralysis. the experience makes me realize how vivid delusions our brains are capable of. During sleep paralysis: I can feel someone holding me down and whispering into my ears ... my mind is half asleep but I am damn aware that I am dreaming and am unable to move my body. So, It could be entirely possible that solipsist is right! The brain is a wonderful organ after all. It could be that everything around is just a matter of neural foreplay!
The Problems with this idea of solipsism
Explaining Solipsism and convincing anyone about it is paradoxical
While I am writing it I am certain and aware that I exist. Similarly, as you are reading it you are conscious of your existence. In order to convince someone that solipsism is a valid ideology, either I have to give up on my own conscious existence or I must convince the other person that they are not real and are a fragment of my imagination. While addressing this blog to a fragment of my imagination that I may or may not even know exist is utterly unlikely. (Or is it?)
It is standing on the grounds that only one is real
So say, I am a Solipsist (I am not) and I come across someone who is also claiming to be a solipsist then we both believe the other person is a subjective experience and is not real. So it is again a paradox because our perception is only dependent on their shared opinion. Moreover, their mental experience is unattainable so we cannot be sure. (Not quite settled, are we?)
It is quite narcissistic to be a Solipsistic
Solipsism places emotions and consciousness as a prerogative of oneself and robs off other people from the same. It is implying to an idea that lacking empathy for others is somehow okay which is not very tasteful in my opinion. It gives one a God-like presence that is unhealthy. However, since there is apparently no possible way to turn down this idea in a dispute its likelihood is still debatable.
The Idea is based on questionable assumption
The idea that the validation of another person's consciousness cannot be made thus it is only "I" that exist and everything else is a bit of "my" mind, to provide me with surroundings. It is not a strong argument. We are aware of the presence of rich History, Science, and Art but we have not experienced it. Moreover, it is not possible for us to experience them all in our lifetime. If only "I" exist then why is there so much of extra information that we cannot possibly comprehend? Besides, one can argue that the unread books and unseen arts and all the unreached knowledge are the props created by our imagination. The debate is still on I guess.
However, problematic the idea of Solipsism finds root in many religions. Still, its foxy tendency to infer that the universe is "designed" for you, is too arrogant.
Soliloquy Of The Solipsist by Plath
Know you appear
Vivid at my side,
Denying you sprang out of my head,
Claiming you feel
Love fiery enough to prove flesh real,
Though it's quite clear
All your beauty, all your wit, is a gift, my dear,
Read full poem here
PS. On the same note, How can you tell that the universe did not come into existence just 5 minutes back and all your memories are just formulated by your brain!
Okay, I will stop now!
Find me on the following; #SocialMedia