Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?

Do you agree with the test ?

Yes
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No
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81%
 
Total votes: 16

Circle5
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Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by Circle5 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:11 pm

For me, solipsism means the standard wikipedia definiton of it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism

As you can see, there are many variations of solipsism. But, in current use of the term, as far as I know it is generally used to describe any philosophy claiming material form is a product of perception and we can never know for sure anything about the external world, or that the external world does not exist at all and that is actually a delusion, only the perception of it actually existing.

In my opinion, a proper test for solipsism is asking someone:

If you die, will your family, your city, this planet, etc. continue to exist ?

If they answer "yes", then they are not a solipsist. If they answer "no" or say that they don't know weather it will continue to exist or not, then I qualify them as solipsist.


Do you believe this is valid test to label one as solipsistic ? Is this what the majority of people understand as solipsistic ? I am asking because there have been persons answering the question like that but claim that they are not solipsit. I have claimed they do that because they don't like the label. The only way to know weather my understanding of the label "solipsist" is a generally accepted one is to make a poll. So what is your opinion ?
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Meggo
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by Meggo » Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:37 pm

"Have you already stopped beating your wife?"

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PuerAzaelis
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by PuerAzaelis » Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:55 pm

How could I verify whether my answer yes or no is correct?
And nobody in all of Oz. No Wizard that there is or was.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:04 pm

This seems to be a poor test. First, because a non-solipsist would admit that there are situations when their own death would also involve the cessation of all other factors in the test; the sun going super-nova, for example. What you are getting at would be better served by asking whether the death of an individual would in itself be a sufficient reason for the other things to cease existing.

Second, because it fails to take into account the possibility that one's death could render talking about those other things meaningless, or render talking about them in the same way meaningless, without any event other than one's death actually occurring. Positions regarding reality and one's orientation to it are far more sophisticated than this formula allows.

This looks to me as if you are trying to convict someone of solipsism. ("If we all agree that x is y, then let me show you how these guys are all y, etc".) But if, as you say, there are different conceptions of what solipsism is, then what would be the point?

Why don't you just ask people what they believe, and try to engage with it, without trying to spring linguistic traps? If you already don't like Nanavira, or whoever, but someone else does, then do you think that sticking a label on that someone is going to bounce them out of their liking for him? If I were a besotted devotee of Nanavira, you calling me a solisist would merely mean that I considered myself to be a besotted devotee of Nanavira who some bloke on the web mistakenly thinks is a solipsist.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:12 pm

Greetings,
Meggo wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:37 pm
"Have you already stopped beating your wife?"
Great analogy.

This demonstrates very clearly that a question can be "loaded"' with various assumptions, and that someone may not be able to give a simple "yes" or "no" response to the question, due to the faulty nature of the question. In this particular "test", the polarity of existence between existence and non-existence is assumed, and there is no comprehension or grounds within the field of accepted responses for questioning the validity of those assumptions.

In this instance for example, for the Buddhist who is following the Buddha's instruction by consciously endeavouring to avoid thinking in terms of the polarity of existence and non-existence, their experience will instead be depicted as per SN 12.15...
SN 12.15 wrote:Dwelling at Savatthi... Then Ven. Kaccayana Gotta approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, 'Right view, right view,' it is said. To what extent is there right view?"

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.

"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."
So, IMO, the correct Dhammic answer to the "test" is what is bolded above.

When the OP has deployed this test as a means to diagnoses solipsists in the past, the test has failed because it cannot cope with responses that are in keeping with the right view which leads to the end of ignorance and dukkha. In contrast, the only responses the test can process are those which talk about whether or not things exist, which constitutes both animal/bestial talk (Tiracchana-Katha), and promotes the ignorant puthujjana paticcasamuppada path which leads to dukkha.
AN 10.70 wrote:"It isn't right, monks, that sons of good families, on having gone forth out of faith from home to the homeless life, should get engaged in such topics of conversation, i.e., conversation about kings, robbers, & ministers of state... talk of whether things exist or not."
SN 12.15 wrote:Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle.
Until the test can be corrected, such that it no longer returns a "false positive" whenever people follow the middle path of practice outlined by the Buddha in SN 12.15 and AN 10.70 then it's a "No" from me.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

perkele
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by perkele » Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:02 pm

Wikpedia wrote:Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.
Wikipedia makes this distinction about solipsism as an "epistomological position" and as a "metaphysical position".

According to that definition, I do almost subscribe to the epistomological position of solipsism. But not quite. While I cannot claim to know other minds with certainty, I feel confident enough in many situations to believe that I know the mindstate, attitude, intention, emotion etc. of someone else I am interacting with. This has always been a puzzling question for me as long as I can remember: How can I know this? How can others know about me? Do we actually know? Do I actually know that they are conscious? Do they actually know that I am conscious? But it seems to work out in practice. I cannot really explain this to my own satisfaction, and that is the reason why I started this topic a few weeks ago, to try and develop my thoughts around that, in interaction with others who might have something helpful to add, ask or answer in that regard.
I was a bit surprised that no one jumped at my bold claim that knowledge can be clearly distinguished from belief and my explanation that that be due to their different "qualia". That is just some assumption that I once made, maybe some kind of "axiom" that I somehow base my own understanding of knowledge vs. belief on. I tried to put this into words somehow in reply to Bundokji's reply to me. But I am very slow sometimes in formulating my thoughts.
But then I have not really followed the topic anymore, because it was veering off in other directions as Circle5 came in.

On the one hand, logically I tend towards "epistomological solipsism". On the other hand I believe that I can just know things somehow, including the "fact" that other people and living beings in the world exist with their own stream of consciousness analogous to my own. But I don't know how to describe what "knowing" really is, same as I cannot describe what "blue" is. The more I try to be descriptive about it the less I seem to actually know with clarity. I'm not really sure about anything. Language confuses me.

Logically, I tend towards "epistomological solipsism". It seems logical somehow, or reasonable as a first principle, that all I can directly know is my own stream of consciousness. I cannot really explain how I can actually seem to know that there are others out there.

According to buddhist teachings it is actually possible to know another's mind (i.e. AN 3.40). And for some reason I have come to believe that the Buddhist teachings are true, and I have even come to experience some situations where I was very sure about certain other beings actually knowing my mind, like, seeing it from inside, through my eyes, knowing my thoughts, knowing what I'm doing, thinking, feeling, intending, even from afar (like, on the other side of the Earth). Situations where there was actually no satisfying other reasonable explanation for what was happening. So how could I be an epistomological solipsist then?

It is just that I cannot explain to myself why I am not an epistomological solipsist, although this would seem to be the most reasonable standard position to me, from first principles.

As to the actual question here: I think the question in question is a useless one to pin down another's views. Maybe some people tend towards epistomological solipsism just because they (like myself) cannot reasonably explain why they are not really epistomological solipsists and will, honestly investigating their rational reasons for believing that other minds exist and not finding a logical deduction for that belief from first principles, answer with "I don't know". We always seem to take some knowledge about other minds for granted as long as we are interacting with others. And it feels like we know it. It's just difficult to explain how that comes to be. So we might feel inclined to "I don't know" despite a strong sense of "knowing" (what I proposed above, or in the other thread, as the quale of knowing which is clearly distinguishable from the quale associated with believing (and doubting), and actually (according to my unsubstantiated claim and proposal) an infallible test to distinguish between knowing and believing: I claim that we can, on principle, know whether we know or only believe something, by distinguishing carefully those different qualia of "knowing" vs. "believing". I would actually be happy about anyone questioning or giving their opinion on that in that other thread - because that is just some claim I once made in my mind and that is what my mind seems to run on all the time. It works like an axiom for me to make some things explainable to myself). The Buddha said that the hindrance of doubt is to be battled with investigation (dhamma-vicaya), but such investigation seems something more fundamental (existential!) than mere logical reasoning.
And a metaphysical solipsist would probably have no reason to answer any question at all. I don't believe that many actual metaphysical solipsists exist, and if they do that many of them live in mental hospitals.

So I will vote on this with "no".

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samseva
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by samseva » Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:34 am

Circle5 wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:11 pm
[...] it will continue to exist or not, then I qualify them as solipsist.
Hmmm...

binocular
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by binocular » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:30 am

Circle5 wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:11 pm
The only way to know weather my understanding of the label "solipsist" is a generally accepted one is to make a poll.
Then you'd have to ask the whole human race to vote in that poll.

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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by chownah » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:39 am

Wanting to call people "solipsist" is just indulging in identity view. The buddha advises giving up identity view.
chownah

Circle5
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by Circle5 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:42 pm

Philosophical zombies are a trademark of solipsism. If one does not believe that their family members will continue to exist after they die, doesn't this make one a solipsist ?
Philosophical Zombie[edit]
The theory of solipsism crosses over with the theory of the philosophical zombie in that all other seemingly conscious beings actually lack true consciousness, instead they only display traits of consciousness to the observer, who is the only conscious being there is.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism ... cal_Zombie

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aflatun
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by aflatun » Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:03 pm

Circle5 wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:42 pm
I think a more useful way of framing these issues for yourself, and to address what you're probably *really* asking, is

What kinds of theories necessarily lead to theoretical solipsism? Theoretical because I agree with perkele and Schopenhauer, outside of mental illness there are no actual solipsists.

I think you'll find this more useful because then you can stick to systems of ideas, models of reality, etc, and see whether they manage to explain how we live in a shared world or make that shared world impossible...instead of people.

Also consider the possibility that seeking a theory to explain, prove or disprove the reality of a shared world might be an approach doomed to failure, because a shared world is presupposed by any such theory...and for other reasons that I don't have the time to get into at the moment.

Please think about this and feel free to ask questions, here or over pm. I'm not trying to put myself above you, I'm just trying to help.
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:23 pm

Circle5 wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:11 pm
As you can see, there are many variations of solipsism. But, in current use of the term, as far as I know it is generally used to describe any philosophy claiming material form is a product of perception and we can never know for sure anything about the external world, or that the external world does not exist at all and that is actually a delusion, only the perception of it actually existing.
No!

These theories are non-substantialist theories. Historical Pugdalavāda fought against "mainstream Buddhism" (which it called anātmanvāda, or "the doctrine of substancelessness", or "the doctrine of non-substantiality") on these grounds, for right or wrong.

Solipsism means that you think "only you" exist. That is the root of solipsism. Nothing about external reality. It 'means' only you exist. Theories about the substantiality or nonsubstantiality of the world follow therefrom.
神足示現者,
世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

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L.N.
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by L.N. » Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:12 am

Circle5 wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:11 pm
In my opinion, a proper test for solipsism is asking someone:

If you die, will your family, your city, this planet, etc. continue to exist ?

If they answer "yes", then they are not a solipsist. If they answer "no" or say that they don't know weather it will continue to exist or not, then I qualify them as solipsist.
The test is ineffective, in part because the question assumes identity view as a starting point, regardless of whether one answers "yes" or "no." The test is pointless. Labeling others in this manner is pointless.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

Circle5
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by Circle5 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:04 am

How in the world can that be pointless ? If one believes their family members will not exist after they die, this means they don't believe they posses consciousness. They are considered philosophical zombies. The only one that actually exists is themselves. If they die, nobody else will continue to exist.

How is one that believes only himself exists and not his family members not a solipsist ? What exactly does one need to do to be considered a solipsist if not to believe only they exist in this world and others are just philosophical zombies ?

Can people here be serious for 1 moment ? :juggling:

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L.N.
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by L.N. » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:32 am

Circle5 wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:04 am
Can people here be serious for 1 moment ?
Yes, and for even longer than that. Can you take people seriously for 1 moment? It does not appear so.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

Circle5
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by Circle5 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:32 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:23 pm
Circle5 wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:11 pm
As you can see, there are many variations of solipsism. But, in current use of the term, as far as I know it is generally used to describe any philosophy claiming material form is a product of perception and we can never know for sure anything about the external world, or that the external world does not exist at all and that is actually a delusion, only the perception of it actually existing.
No!

These theories are non-substantialist theories. Historical Pugdalavāda fought against "mainstream Buddhism" (which it called anātmanvāda, or "the doctrine of substancelessness", or "the doctrine of non-substantiality") on these grounds, for right or wrong.

Solipsism means that you think "only you" exist. That is the root of solipsism. Nothing about external reality. It 'means' only you exist. Theories about the substantiality or nonsubstantiality of the world follow therefrom.
So if one believes their family members will not continue to exist after they die, does this not imply that they only consider themselves to exist, and not their family members ? :juggling:

binocular
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by binocular » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:32 am

Circle5 wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:04 am
How in the world can that be pointless ?
What do you hope to accomplish by calling this or that person a solipsist?

Circle5
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by Circle5 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:34 am

binocular wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:32 am
Circle5 wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:04 am
How in the world can that be pointless ?
What do you hope to accomplish by calling this or that person a solipsist?
What do you think one will acomplish by being a solipsist but denying that he is one ? Why hide so much behind the finger about it ? And please let's stay on topic and avoid metta-discussion.

If you don't believe other people exist, then you are a solipsist. That's the english language definition of the term.
British Dictionary definitions for solipsism Expand
solipsism
/ˈsɒlɪpˌsɪzəm/
noun
1.
(philosophy) the extreme form of scepticism which denies the possibility of any knowledge other than of one's own existence

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L.N.
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by L.N. » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:38 am

Circle5 wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:04 am
What exactly does one need to do to be considered a solipsist if not to believe only they exist in this world and others are just philosophical zombies ?
Apparently one just needs you to tell them so. Have you even considered the possibility that there is a little more to it than you think? And that labeling others is of no benefit to you, or to anyone else? Judging from the context previously provided, it appears you are not serious.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

Circle5
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Re: Is this a proper test for solipsism ?

Post by Circle5 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:39 am

L.N. wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:38 am
Circle5 wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:04 am
What exactly does one need to do to be considered a solipsist if not to believe only they exist in this world and others are just philosophical zombies ?
Apparently one just needs you to tell them so. Have you even considered the possibility that there is a little more to it than you think? And that labeling others is of no benefit to you, or to anyone else? Judging from the context previously provided, it appears you are not serious.
Then open your mouth and speak. What is that "more to it than it appears" ? That's exactly why I opened this topic, for people to speak about that "more to it". So please speak my friend, don't keep it to yourself.

If the word "solipsist" used wrongly when speaking about people who believe only their own mind is sure to exist, and not that of other beings ? I am not a native english speaker. I consulted the dictionaries and this is what they said. If there is more to in than the dictionaries say, then please speak.

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