Solipsism: Does Anyone Else Really Exist?

Jared Kohn Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Brian Day Butler University
René Descartes realized that things he once believed to be true were actually false. Because of this, he began discarding all of his beliefs that he could not empirically prove. This led him to an existential crisis upon discovering that it was almost impossible to empirically prove any of his beliefs about the world. He famously reached the conclusion that “I think, therefore I am”, and asserted that there’s a separation between mind and body. Belief in one’s own existence is empowering. However, understanding what lies beyond one’s own conscious mind, one’s own existence, gets complicated. You think, therefore you are, but it’s impossible to prove that anyone else thinks. Therefore, it’s impossible to know for sure that you’re not the only sentient being in the universe. This frame of thinking leads to solipsism. Solipsism is like falling down a rabbit hole of your own consciousness, uncertain of anyone else’s existence. Descartes’ dualism, separation between mind and body, the mental and the physical, feeds into a solipsistic mindset. Thinking of oneself as separate from the world around you can push one further down that solipsistic rabbit hole. I argue that there is no separation between the mind and body. Further, there exists no being or thing in singularity. Rather, things exist in plurality, in relation to each other and in relation to consciousness, and must be thought of as interconnected. William James called this philosophy radical empiricism, and I’ll use it to help combat solipsistic thoughts.

Oral Presentation

When & Where

02:00 PM
Gallahue Hall 106