• lambda
    76
    From my idealist perspective, reality consists of two fundamental kinds of things: experiencers and experiences.

    There are emergent things as well: phenomenal worlds (vast collections of world-suggestive experiences).

    So what you get is a picture of reality that looks something like this:

    Experiencer #1 -------- phenomenal world #1

    Experiencer #2 -------- phenomenal world #2

    Experiencer #3 -------- phenomenal world #3

    ...

    ..

    .

    Experiencer #N -------- phenomenal world #N

    Note how there is only one experiencer per phenomenal world. Each experiencer is shut up in their own private phenomenal world and isolated from every other experiencer. This means communication between experiencers is impossible because there is no way to share experiences. I call this “group solipsism”. Strictly speaking, it is not metaphysical solipsism since reality contains more than one mind, but it is still solipsistic because each experiencer is totally alone in their own world.

    This is the reason why merely saying ‘other minds exist’ fails to resolve the problem of solipsism. What good is the existence of other minds if you’re unable to communicate with them? Unless some account of communication is given, then you're left with "group solipsism" – a position which is no more desirable than metaphysical solipsism.

    So what is the way out of this problem? How is it possible for different experiencers to communicate with each other?

    I do see a way out, but it seems really extravagant and speculative. The solution would be to say this: Although experiencer #1 is confined to perceiving phenomenal world 1, he is nonetheless capable of causally influencing phenomenal worlds #2, 3, …, N. So when experiencer #1 has the intention to raise his arm, this intention is transmitted to phenomenal worlds #2, 3, …, N and causes an experience of an arm to raise in each phenomenal world. And this is how communication becomes possible.

    What’s strange about this solution is that I have no conscious knowledge of causing experiences in other people's phenomenal worlds. Shouldn’t I be consciously aware of the fact that I am causing other people’s experiences? It would seem so.

    The existence of other minds is really weird. It is even weirder than solipsism, to be honest.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    If each 'phenomenal world' is entirely dependent on its 'experiencer' then this kind of causal interaction is impossible.

    And if each 'phenomenal world' isn't entirely dependent on its 'experiencer' then it isn't solipsism.

    (I think you should explore the second option)
  • intrapersona
    558
    Although experiencer #1 is confined to perceiving phenomenal world 1, he is nonetheless capable of causally influencing phenomenal worlds #2, 3, …lambda

    How can you be sure of that he is actually influencing other phenomenal worlds? When all you have to go off of is the phenomenal experience of experience # 1. My point is we are trapped to only 1 experience and therefor can not infer whether we effect other peoples experiences because all we see about the changes in their experiences is from our perspective.

    Yet, everyone makes this inference ANDDDD... it is the reason why we don't feel lonely. it is the reason why we enter in to stable marriages and why we feel a strong connection to our family (because we BELIEVE they exist). I switch back and forth between not believing other entities actually exist out there and are actually just sensory information that reality is importing from some identified source (like a brain in a vat) and i then i switch back to common sense view of reality that people and objects actually exist. It is hard to switch completely when you have been brought up that way.
  • intrapersona
    558
    So what you get is a picture of reality that looks something like this:

    Experiencer #1 -------- phenomenal world #1

    Experiencer #2 -------- phenomenal world #2

    Experiencer #3 -------- phenomenal world #3
    lambda

    I have thought something similar along these lines. Think of this scene: matrix-pods.jpg

    My version is that these phenomenal worlds don't actually collide at all, they are completely separate but at the same time they are joined through a larger metaphysical network.

    Just imagine a computer game where people are all joined to the same game except Gamer#1 can do anything he chooses in his game whilst only selected aspects of what he does will be displayed on other gamers screens. Who selects what transfers? Aliens, perhaps. Think about it though, if you had control over what one persons actions effected other peoples realities like that you could have quite a lot of control over the entire population while at the same time being completely non-existent to every human being alive.
  • Marchesk
    2.8k
    If each 'phenomenal world' is entirely dependent on its 'experiencer' then this kind of causal interaction is impossible.csalisbury

    Seemed to me that some of the idealists back on the old board did defend this, and that the Cyrenaics defended that position in ancient Greece.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    Yeah? if every phenomenon is unilaterally determined by the experiencer, how does another experiencer intervene?
  • Marchesk
    2.8k
    I never saw a good answer to that, only that idealism is not solipsism, and so has other minds built into it somehow.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    Yes, I agree that idealism is not solipsism. There are all sorts of ways to bring other minds in.
  • Marchesk
    2.8k
    Think about it though, if you had control over what one persons actions effected other peoples realities like that you could have quite a lot of control over the entire population while at the same time being completely non-existent to every human being alive.intrapersona

    I like to blame some of my poorer choices on aliens, at any rate.
  • Wayfarer
    8.6k
    Sounds awfully like Liebniz' 'windowless monads' to me.

    Languages are shared conventions, and so is much else. We learn from those around us; 'mirror neurons', consensus reality, and so on.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k
    From my idealist perspective, reality consists of two fundamental kinds of things: experiencers and experiences.lambda

    This is an aside, really, but I'm curious about this:

    If only ideal things exist in your view, and experiencers are different than experiences, then just what are experiencers ideally? They can't be some set of experiences, because experiences are different than experiencers on your view. So what are they? What sort of ideal thing is it that experiences?
  • javra
    859


    Understanding holds the etymology of “inter-standing”: e.g., that which is between the two or more folks that understand the same given referent.

    For those non-sexually-obsessed folk, inter-course, such as verbal intercourse, has this notion of inter-standing built into it. [And for the same folk, so too does sexual intercourse; so it’s stated.]

    For any non-physicalist, non-epiphenomenalist stance, there minimally is the justifiable possibility of their being some form of metaphysical freewill via which effects are causally produced by us--this as we experience them to be. Decision, thoughts, the words expressed, etc., can all then viably be effects which the respective being metaphysically originated--as we directly sense and as we communally express.

    Hence, in a conversation such as that which this thread pursues, there is an inter-path between interlocutors whereby each can affect the other via their choices--such that an inter-path, or an under-standing, is perpetually manifested and built upon.

    We focus on disagreements. Yet for any disagreement to be in any way cogent there must first be a broader understanding as platform. For example, were one to write their thoughts in Japanese and the other in Spanish, with no understanding of the other’s language, no cogent disagreements could be addressed. Likewise, where there to be no common understanding of what mind, body, planet, and world signify, no cogent disagreements could be addressed regarding these.

    Wherever experiencer 1, 2, 3, etc., interact, there will then be a common underlying set of understandings between all that will be taken for granted by all. There then shall also simultaneously be a common, underlying phenomenal world apprehended by all given interlocutors. Again, we focus on our differences in debates. But for these differences to manifest there first needs to be an implicit agreement of what the differences hold as referent, as one example regarding conversations.

    I don’t believe this resolves anything of significance in terms of metaphysics; nor does it rely upon any particular metaphysics. But to me it currently does entail that there can’t be such a thing as solipsism, multiple or otherwise. All experiencers, as you term them, would be in some way entwined with the same, experienced, phenomenal world--and, by extension, with each other while interacting--although we may each hold different rationalized interpretations of this commonly shared phenomenal world: of our ubiquitous under-standing, so to speak.

    The portions of our mind that is private to ourselves is just a common sense means by which we all intuitively and experientially know that we each have our own unique minds—regardless of means used to explain this. So the listing you’ve given of phenomenal world 1, 2, etc. is then only a representation of our own unique minds. But again, between these there occurs a common, underlying understanding of what is: a singular phenomenal world shared by different selves.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    Note how there is only one experiencer per phenomenal world. Each experiencer is shut up in their own private phenomenal world and isolated from every other experiencer. This means communication between experiencers is impossible because there is no way to share experiences. I call this “group solipsism”

    But we do talk in languages and we write. We follow along and reply to what others have said or written. If there is a technical reason why that's not sufficient then whatever that reason is does not live up to experience as we experience it, it can't be phenomenal. Don't we correct each others mistakes from time to time.
  • intrapersona
    558
    I like to blame some of my poorer choices on aliens, at any rate.Marchesk

    Haha, not sure if you actually meant that as a response or just a joke. What put forth doesn't say anything about your choices being governed or even influenced by aliens though... so?
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    I have sympathies with this view, and something like this metaphysical picture was the one I came to naturally early in my teens, before I ever knew what philosophy, idealism, solipsism, etc. were, and much of what I've thought since has been variations on it and trying to come to terms with it. The 'solution' isn't odd, as I see it, unless you insist that you somehow encompass everything, which is precisely the solipsistic impulse that's trying to be excluded.

    It doesn't strike me as at all implausible that we can influence and be influenced by things that we have no idea about and no way of ever coming into intimate contact with. In fact this view of things seems to gel quite naturally with life experience. Some sort of metaphysical picture like this would be what is most 'true to life:' but philosophers, in my experience, are less concerned with 'truth to life' than abstract conditions of self-consistency and consistency with prejudice of one sort or another.

    And yes, there's a tie-in to Leibniz, who was, frankly, a genius, and the Monadology is probably the greatest work of hardcore, no-nonsense ambitious speculative metaphysics there is.
  • dukkha
    206
    It's like two people playing chess against one-another, but are on other sides of the planet. There's two chess sets which corresponds to each other, so if the white knight is moved on one board, it automatically moves on the other. Each person is alone in their own room, with their own chess board, but they are playing against each other in a singular match. So for example, one guy is playing as black. He'd see on the board in front of him, a white piece moving by itself, corresponding to the guy on the other side of the world moving that white piece with his hand.

    Your face and body is much like this as well, when you are in public. You control it's movements, but it's appearing in the visual fields of other people. So you're in a store for example. You are intensely aware/self-conscious of the movements and expressions in your face, and of your arms when you point to a product for the store person. It's like you are basically existing in their visual field. You're kind of transported into their mind (their visual perception) and with your movements in your body and your facial expression you control what they perceive. You walk around and make expressions directly within their minds.

    It's very odd to me. It's as if your body is basically an exterior, a shell or a surface, and it moves in and out of people's minds, and it's totally up to you what you express or do with that exterior, how you present it. There's a huge difference in how you experience your body compared to being in the presence of other people and being alone. When other people are around my perception of my body and face drastically switches so that I am immediately aware of myself as another persons perception - I have entered the mind of another person. And so I experience the surface of my body and my face as a visual perception for another person. I experience myself, in my mind, from a third person visual perspective. Imagining myself as existing within the visual perception of another person, and he does the same for me. We essentially lose our first person perspective that we have while alone, and see ourselves as the exterior/shell of our bodies which others are perceiving.

    The world is so totally incomprehensibly bizarre! I seriously have no idea wtf is going on. I still have a lot of doubts about/towards solipsism. It seems no matter how secure I feel about myself actually communicating with others, these niggling little doubts always sneak back in, "are you really? is there truly another visual field which my body is being perceived within? Is there really a perceivier somehow associated with that persons body I see? Is there really a pain experience associated with that person hurting themselves?"

    I suppose us being separate beings means we really just cannot know for sure whether the other actually exists. Which troubles me greatly. Whether you exist or not has huge consequences for morality, love, meaning, etc.
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