Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Are You A Solipsist?

That is, are you a person who believes that only your mind exists and everything else is a fantasy construct?

I read about this through the web site The Comic Curmudgeon in reference to this Family Circus cartoon...

I expanded the meaning to that of anything that existed before I was born and not within my physical presence doesn't exist it's an illusion. People say it exists but if I don't take it on faith than it might not be true.

Case in point... I was born on January 14th 1967, or so that's what my parents tell me. I don't remember of course but I trust them that they aren't lying to me. Some people aren't that lucky.

This sort of thinking is what makes people think we didn't land on the moon, that Kennedy wasn't assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald and yes, even that the Holocaust didn't happen. I wasn't there, ergo it didn't exist.

I'm fascinated by this thinking and presented this philosophy to a co-worker to pass time. I mentioned some of the things above and threw in 9/11.

Of course 9/11 is a touchy subject but I wanted to give him the idea of what solipsism is. I used myself as an example. I know the Twin Towers existed, it was located in lower Manhattan. It was very tall. They were there at least until 2000 because that was the last time I saw them.

I go to Manhattan now, to the same area where they were located and they are no longer there.Those are the facts as I know them.

It's a fact even if I took the solipsist view. What happened in between is up to speculation to them.

I was NOT sleepless in Seattle when all what happened that day happened. So in order to get an idea what happened I relied on the media, some friends who witnessed it, and the visual images on the TV and the newspaper.

Now, as I believe it, planes crashed into those buildings. I saw the second tower get hit by what looked like a commercial plane when the news media recapped what happened that day. Weeks later, they showed the footage of the first plane hitting the North Tower. Through the illusion we call television I saw both towers collapse. Friends I trust with my life tell me they saw them collapse.

Now, for the most part I believe most of what I was told by the media who was responsible, how it occurred, and how many people perished that day. I quibble with some of the facts the Bush administration wanted out there but I ain't one to believe the conspiracy theories about it being an inside job. They aren't convincing enough to believe. Too much planning to trust the US government to do that effectively.

Now, a Solipsist has to wonder what happened that day. Who does he believe? What really happened? He knows the buildings were there and knows the buildings are now gone. He has to believe in one of the stories.

Actually, I don't really believe anyone who fully immersed himself in the solipsist mindset but it makes for an interesting way of thinking. Still it scares me sometimes when people take it seriously.

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