Hard Solipsism is an even easier target than determinism to refute, and I think it’s worthwhile to trim the fat off of relevant philosophical inquiry.

Solipsism is the philosophical argument that you can’t know that you aren’t the only thing in existence, and that you aren’t just imagining everyone and everything else. The strongest argument for Solipsism is that this is precisely what we experience in our dreams. While dreaming we encounter other people, have conversations, and otherwise participate in an all-encompassing tangible reality completely fabricated by our subconscious. Nobody else really exists in our dreams, and yet we are (with rare exceptions of lucid dreaming) completely fooled by them. So, if you stop and think about it, you know absolutely that your subconscious mind is capable while dreaming of completely fooling you into thinking you are not alone, but are interacting with separate entities in a physical environment. How do we then know that what we think of as an awakened state in a real world isn’t just immersion in another, more sophisticated, dream-like state?

The biggest problem with Solipsism is that you can only make this argument with yourself. You could tell yourself that I am a figment of your imagination, but you can’t tell me that, because I know that I exist independently of you. Obviously, nobody can tell you that you don’t exist, because you can’t hear the argument unless you exist.

Being a Solipsist is not going to make you any friends, because you are going to have to insist that they are all just so much ethereal gossamer in your incredibly vivid imagination. When you hang up the phone you tell them that they cease to exist.

I once had an amusing online debate with a Solipsist. My argument was this: “You are right. I don’t exist. There is only you. You are God. I am only letters on a screen you create with your own imagination.” He had no comeback to this argument – because it is in agreement with his stance to begin with – but it still pissed him off because he knew I was a real person being a smart ass, but he couldn’t say so or he’d lose the debate.

Things are a bit lonely for the Solipsist, because there can be no other Solipsists to keep him or her company. Nevertheless, I suppose at some point when one encounters the Solipsistic argument, one may want to grapple with it, and try to establish whether or not other people actually exist.

So, how do I know that I’m not the only thing in the universe and just imagining everything else? We only need compare waking reality to dreams to see a critical difference between a reality composed of non-imaginary people, and a completely imagined reality. In the dream, everything that happens occurs only within our own framework of knowledge. For example, I can’t speak Swahili, and neither can anyone in my dreams. I don’t know how to fly a plane, and neither does anyone in my dreams. I’ve never been to Yugoslavia, it only exists as a name in my dreams, and I can’t visit there while sleeping. Just now I looked up lesser known countries, and I’d never heard of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic before. Without doing some research, I can’t have anything like an accurate dream of visiting the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

The flag of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic didn’t exist in my imagination until I looked it up. To me it looks backwards, kind of like the way Solipsism works.

There is information that I know exists, such as how to speak Swahili or how to fly an airplane, but which I don’t have and can’t access. I know there can’t be airplanes without the technology to build them or the learned skill to fly them. How can I be creating the planes and flying them without knowing how to do it myself? The Solipsist would have to argue that I actually DO have this knowledge but deceive myself into thinking I don’t, or that airplanes don’t actually fly and nobody knows how to fly them (nobody else exists so how could they?), in which case they only appear to fly.

I can look up how to speak Swahili or how to fly a plane and at once discover that this knowledge surely exists, and yet I don’t have it. If I started to teach myself Swahili the process would be very slow; and if I moved somewhere where people spoke the language, such as Tanzania, I wouldn’t understand 90% of what everyone else was saying, nor could I accurately produce in my dreams language beyond what I’d already mastered.

This is Swahili. If I invented it, why can’t I read it? According to Solipsism I must be fooling myself that I can’t.

The Solipsist will have to argue that while attempting to learn Swahili I am actually inventing a new language in my imagination. I’d already invented the name of the language, and now I would just be inventing the words and syntax. If I had a Swahili teacher, she wouldn’t actually be teaching me anything, I’d be inventing the language on the spot and just using her as a puppet.

This I can read, because I wrote it. Learning to write Thai is quite difficult, probably because I’m not slowly unveiling my own invention to myself, but rather learning someone else’s language that I had no part in the creation of.

This becomes still more problematical when one considers that things which exist in our imagination, such as a CD, in every way reflect the knowledge required to make them. Sure, I can imagine what a CD looks like, but I have nothing of the knowledge of how to make one. Nevertheless its resultant form entirely reflects the technology needed to produce it. Why does the form of a CD or airplane reflect the necessary technology to produce it if that technology doesn’t actually exist unless you bother to invent it in your own mind after the fact?

The appearance of a CD is dependent on it’s function, technology, and aesthetics. How is it a Solipsist can create the final appearance of a CD without understanding any of the mechanics of what went into producing it?

To this the Solipsist would have to argue, again, that you actually possess all this knowledge but choose to fool yourself, probably to make a game of existence to beguile the lazy hours of infinitude. If this were the case you would have to have limitless intelligence and knowledge. You’d be God.

So, again, here are the main problems of Solipsism, according to me.

1. You have all knowledge but only allow yourself to perceive a tiny portion of it. Now we need another explanation for why we do this, and on and on…

2. It’s ridiculously lonely. There’s only YOU! Which is not to say that nature can’t behave in a way that is ridiculously lonely, just that it seems a much stranger option for a human than it does for a spider or praying mantis.

3. You’d have to be God. According to you, there is nothing else but you, in which case there couldn’t be a separate god, and therefor you ARE God! Even if you don’t believe in God, if you believe you created all the known universe with your own noodle, you are so unimaginably brilliant you must be God by some other name. It’s probably less embarrassing to go around trumpeting that you are God in a universe where you really ARE God, and all others are just dream creations moving along as you pull the strings. However, in the other reality that you can’t escape, where there appears to be other distinct people who are not all necessarily friendly to you, you should probably be humble and keep it a secret that you are God. People could take offense to that claim, especially when you follow it up by telling them that they don’t exist, and are mere illusions. Chances are it will cross their minds to prove their existence by punching you in the nose. However much someone might convince themselves of Solipsism, if they try to apply it in the illusionary world they think they live in, it’s going to turn out bad for them.

4. And the biggest criticism is just how ridiculous Solipsism is if anyone else argues it. If I tell you there is only me and you are only text on a screen, you can’t possibly take me seriously. If someone else say’s that I don’t exist, it’s just stupid. It’s baby talk. This philosophy by its very nature cannot be corroborated by anyone else without refuting itself by acknowledging others exist. Because it can’t be corroborated it isn’t empirical. That might be OK in a Solipsistic universe where nothing can be corroborated at all, but outside of the Solipsistic argument, most anything else taken seriously is rigorously corroborated. Solipsism is the outstanding exception. It’s more of an “imagine if” after-school fantasy for children than a philosophy to be taken seriously.

There is at least one good thing about Solipsism though, and that’s that it acknowledges the role of our own minds in fashioning our universes in our heads. Everything we experience is witnessed on the inner screen of our own consciousness, and by our choices, experience, and knowledge we do fashion much of what transpires in our personal universes. However, the Solipsists go too far in arguing that there is no external world that all this happens in. It’s far more interesting for us to have our inner worlds AND for them to be forged in and through an actual physical world.

~ Ends





37 replies on “Say so long to Solipsism

  1. “nor could I accurately produce in my dreams language beyond what I’d already mastered.” I actually had a dream once where I woke up speaking what I believe to be, after researching what I had remembered saying, after waking up, “correct” Italian, and I had no prior knowledge of how to speak those words in that language. At the time, I had a “broken” understanding of the language, meaning, I spoke very “broken” Italian…ie..not at all correct Italian, but just enough to maybe get by if I had to in a dire emergency…and I specifically remember after waking, knowing it was Italian by it’s familiarity, but was definitely not the way I would have said it, with my own working knowledge of the language. My knowledge of that language just wasn’t good enough to say it that correct like that. That is a major part of what made it so weird to me, perhaps worth remembering, and researching….just some food for thought, though I do agree for the most part with your take on Solipsism. Was a fun read though. And nice nice artwork btw. 🙂


    1. Hi Jessica. Well, the subconscious is amazing. I’ve listened to music that I thought was great, but which my subconscious was making up on the spot. As for language, my guess is that if you have a partial understanding of the language, your subconscious might be able to string it together (kind of like it can make music on the fly), and in your dreamy state you might not be able to tell if it’s partially gibberish. If you spoke a language you hadn’t studied and been exposed to, that’d be more surprising.


  2. Hello there. I am a 19 year old who has been wrestling with these sorts of issues for roughly a decade, contributing to a major anxiety disorder and disruption to my personal relationships.

    Using similar reasoning to that which you propose here, I felt I had overcome (for the most part) the traditional idea of solipsism. That’s a good feeling, and liberated me in a way. However, I’ve also read another theory.

    In this theory, an ‘evil scientist’ is said to be controlling your mind. Every nerve in your brain is hooked up to a computer, which simulates a reality exactly as if it were real in order to deceive you for some purpose (Entertainment? Who knows, it’s very easy to invent hypothetical reasoning for that). Do you have any idea of how one might refute that? The best I can do so far is the idea that no false reality (or say, the false mind of another ‘person’) can behave exactly as it should, because it simply not the thing it supposes to be.

    Just thought you might be able to help with this turmoil I’m experiencing, I don’t expect to see my anxiety problems cured anytime soon, but it would be a massive help.

    Thank you.


    1. Hi:

      You can use Occam’s Razor ( to eliminate a lot of scenarios like the mad scientist controlling your brain theory. Occam’s Razor states that the explanation with the least assumptions is most likely correct. The mad scientist explanation raises more questions than it answers, and doesn’t seem to answer any questions at all.

      It raises the questions of 1) How the scientist controls one’s every thought. 2) Why he does it. 3) Whether or not you are able to move your body in his world, and if not whether or not you have lost complete control of your body. 4) What the purpose of his experiment is and what are his possible justifications for doing it. 5) Why there is no evidence whatsoever that the mad scientist exists. 6) How the scientist got a hold of you in the first place, such a when you were born or later in life. 7) Whether or not you are even a human being. 8) Why you appear to control your own thoughts at all times…

      You can probably think of more and more questions, and any answers can only be hypothetical and with no evidence that they are true. Meanwhile, all the evidence suggests that you control you own thoughts and are moving about in an actual world. I think if someone else were feeding you thoughts, you wouldn’t experience them as your own and you wouldn’t feel as if you could control them.


  3. I’ve been battling solipsism for a while now. I’ve been wondering if occums razor and newtons sword can be used to refute solipsism.


  4. try this one. We are all one mind that split itself up into many (eg. other people) to entertain itself or maybe simply for reasons we do not understand. Maybe its a process to try and evolve. This is the only version of solipsism I find irrefutible. In this scenario, both you and I are us. We are one, and we are god. I am god. You catch the drift?


    1. Your view isn’t what I think of Solipsism because it involves multiple viewpoints, even if all centered around a central hub which is God. Actually, your view sounds more like a loose metaphor for a fairly straightforward assessment of existence. We are all inarguable inextricable from the totality, and as such are expressions of it. In the human realm we share similar brains, and more importantly consciousnesses, forged or civilized with the same grammar structures and wealth of prior existing ideas. If one just says, as Frank Lloyd Wright did, that Nature is God, than there’s no real solipsism involved in your scenario, unless we take it very literally. You and I are expressions of the same universe and nature. You don’t need to call it God. But we each do have individual perspectives that are opaque to one another, and we do live in a physical reality, both of which just make things that much more complex and interesting.


  5. Woah, I think you accidentally Proved solipsism by refuting it. Fascinating. Although, now I realize it is pointless for me to even leave this comment, who is commenting on whose article?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy to debate you on the topic if you are up for it. How did I prove Solipsim? First off, I must remind you that I do not exist and you are taling to yourself. You are creating this comment as you read it out of your imagination. There is only you. I do not exist. If you don’t agree, than I just proved Solipsism is false.

      Similarly, if I say Solipsism is true, than you are merely a comment and my own invention, and there’s nobody behind it. You do not exist. How does that suit your empirical experience of reality?


  6. “I know that I exist independently of you” How? There is no direct experience of any experiencing self anywhere. Nor is there direct experience of any substance underlying experience. Even to refer to experience as such is saying too much. This is not to say that experience is illusory in any way but that the very notions of an experiencing self or a substance experienced are illusory i.e. conceptual extrapolations. Become familiar with Zen Philosophy. The Zen insights of anatta (no-self) and sunyata (emptiness) render the question of solipsism entirely moot.


    1. When I say that I know I exist independently of you, I mean I know that I am not just a figment of your imagination. So, for example, as far as you are concerned, I am no more than some text and images on a blog. But I know that I eat and sleep and shit. According to Solipsism I don’t do any of those things, and I don’t do anything at all unless you imagine it, and then I only do anything to the extent of which you imagine it. In other words, in Solipsism I am a dream character in your illusory dream. My argument was to just switch roles. How about I say that you don’t exist other than as a comment on my blog? Well, you know you have a whole life beyond just your presence in my awareness. Thus Solipsism can never be entertained by two people simultaneously, because both would deny the existence of the other, and both would know that they themselves exist.

      I am familiar with Zen, Buddhism, and various strains of Hinduism. You wrote, “I am familiar with Zen, Buddhism, and various strains of Hinduism. You wrote, “There is no direct experience of any experiencing self anywhere.” Yes there is, and it’s called “consciousness”, which is the awareness that we are aware, and what we are aware of is a “self” (something that exists and is self-aware). You follow with, “Nor is there direct experience of any substance underlying experience.” Again, yes there is direct experience. You can only deny direct experience of self while practicing direct experience of self. This is why Descartes famously concluded that, “I think, therefore I am”. In other words, you can’t be thinking about existence if you don’t exist. If you exist you experience existence, and the experiencer of existence is a self-aware being.

      What you may mean to say is that all experience, including that of self is ultimately an illusion within consciousness. This is absolutely true subjectively speaking, but it is an illusion that takes place in and in response to an actual physical world.

      Zen does not make Solipsism mute, but with the emphasis you share of focusing on the element of illusion in our subjective existence paves the way for Solipsism is one is not cognizant that the illusions in question take place in a shared, actual, physical environment.

      There is the question in Eastern philosophy of whether the self is the personal individual self, or if you pan back enough, is the self that of the entirety of the cosmos and beyond of which one is an inextricable part and an expression. This, however, does not deny that we have individual selves on the surface, but rather raises the possibility that the self is much grander and far less limited than we imagine, and the self we are addicted to is a self-imposed neurotic belief.


  7. 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

    I see that in a lot of replies you hammer on the fact that you don’t exist
    I don’t think that’s fair, solipsism as far as I know rejects the certainty of knowledge outside of the self
    So when yoy assert you don’t exist you’re asserting a truth statment that a solpsist would refuse
    It goes against the whole point


    1. The absolutely ridiculous problem of Solipsism when you express it to anyone else is that you are arguing essentially that they don’t exist. Either I don’t exist or you don’t. We can’t both exist. So, unless you don’t exist — because I sure as hell exist — than Solipsism is BS. You need to then tell me that, yes, you exist, but I don’t. You can’t convince me I don’t exist.


      1. Oh there it is, comments made a weird thing, didn’t show my name for some reason, you did reply

        So there’s a few problems
        Again you’re throwing into it additional stuff to straw man, it does not claim other people don’t exist, that’s just false, it claims, there can’t be proper proof of othes existence, those are 2 diffrent statements, one asserts certainty of non existence (straw man) the other refuses any certainty outside of the self
        I posted the definition from wiki in the earlier comment

        Might be I don’t exist from your perspective, and I can’t prove you otherwise if not inductively

        “we can’t both exist” of course we can, that’s again a straw man, we just can’t be sure

        I’m sure I can’t convince you you don’t exist if first we don’t get ro grasp solipsism

        Also, leave “ridiculous” outside of philosophy, no such thing, either things are true or they’re false (and well we can argue about the law of excluded middle, fine there might be more, but ridiculous tells you nothing nonetheless)

        Just for clarity sake, I’m not a solpsist I’m playing devil’s advocate to argue against badly made points as far as I can see


        1. We can prove scientifically that other people exist, it’s only from a purely subjective point of view that we can ask ourselves if we are actually imagining it all, like a super elaborate dream. And that could see legitimate as long as someone else isn’t the one thinking it. If I sit here and ponder whether or not you exist, and I conclude there’s no way to be sure that you do, that’s fine except that you know you exist.

          Can I convince you that you don’t exist? You can never convince someone else of Solipsism from your perspective. You might be able to convince them that you don’t exist, but not that they don’t. No two people can entertain Solipsism in the same room at the same time. It’s mutually exclusive.


          1. “scientifically prove”? So just empirically see that that’s the case? Not close to enough, you have to justify that, the rabbit hole for an objective reality goes a bit deeper than “oh well but science”
            Also right after that you seem to almost validate solipsism, I think you might agree with it in principle and are missunderstanding it a little, or have a problem with how some people go about it or something
            “i conclude there is no CERTAIN way to know that” yeah there that would be solipsism

            Again the aim is not to prove others don’t exist, that would be an assertion with a “truth” value, thr whole point of solipsism is that we reject that made exception for the self

            So yes, to people can very well abide to solipsism

            You can’t convince other’s they don’t exist, but you can convince them that they don’t know if other’s besides them do, that there is no epistemological foundation that can make you properly sure of that


              1. What do you mean when you say “science can prove others exist”? As you yourself pointed out, that could be all your mind’s construction, so you have to further justify the validity of these “proofs”as objective or something

                So if you sit alone and ponder, do you get to the conclusion that there’s no way for you to deductively prove my existence?
                Because then you don’t disagree with solipsism

                I know i exist, you know you exist, the point is we have no way to prove to each other that’s the case to 100% certainty

                You keep attaching this” others don’t exist” thing to solipsism, that’s not part of it, it may be some specific branch of it, maybe you’re arguing specifically against that
                But you understand the difference between the claims “nothing outside of the self can be certain” and “certainly nothing outside of the self exist”?

                The second one two people in the same room can’t adopt like you said, the first one they can, no problem, they jusy both have to acknowledge the lack of certainty and consider others existence axiomatically/as a belief


                1. I think you need to re-read my article with an open mind. I covered this.

                  I DO understand the difference between saying, “The moon doesn’t exist” and “We can’t be 100% certain the moon really exists.”

                  The first argument says we have tons of scientific evidence which can’t be denied, we’ve landed on the moon, if influences our tides…. and therefore it exists.

                  Solipsism says we can’t be sure it exists because we can just be dreaming it all, including all the evidence. We’re not saying it doesn’t exist, we’re just saying we can’t be sure it’s no all in our individual minds.

                  But the outstanding problem is still that if you tell me you can’t be sure if I exist or not, well, I know that I do, in which case I also know that your philosophy is soft-headed and useless. It’s mere mental masturbation because it works to play with ideas where we imagine something we know exists doesn’t.

                  That’s actually counter-productive. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand or appreciate the importance of subjective experience.

                  For example, if you have a dream, we can say it didn’t really happen. However, I would argue that you really did have the dream and really had the dream experiences within it. It just didn’t happen in quotidian reality.

                  Solipsism is OK as a mental experiment for a half hour or so, I guess. But beyond that, something that is patently delusional is not a philosophy that’s going to accomplish anything nor give anyone a deeper understanding of existence. Yo ucan’t deny things you are damned sure are real. Like I said, It’s mental masturbation for sophomores falling asleep in a Philosophy 101 class. I say, get the fuck out of the class and get yourself a coffee and look at the trees and understand that it all exists, and work from there.


  8. 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

    I see you hammering on the point that you don’t exist
    I don’t think that’s fair, as far as I know solipsism rejects certainty outside of the self
    So when you say ” I must remind you I don’t exist, you’re creating this very comment” you’re asserting a stament with a truth value that the solpsist would reject in the first place
    It’s kinda against the whole point

    To draw a parallel, you seem to be painting it as gnostic athesim, when it seems to me more like agnosticism

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And I can’t prove you otherwise if not inductively (by likelyhood), which again is the claim solipsism sustains

        Like what the hell is that witty response, you didn’t adress my points at all, come on man…


          1. Yeah sorry about that I’m always on the phone at it does weird things, and i sure don’t help it

            I was sayng, what you claimed there is not something i can prove to you otherwise, i can make an inductive case for it, but it’ll never be 100%,and that’s kinda what solipsism wants to say
            We can just stay on the other comment though from here


            1. Again, I can’t tell what you are arguing here. Instead of referring to another argument, or characterizing it, can you make a clear statement? I really have no idea what you are getting at.


              1. Hi Eric!

                I’m currently having an Existential Crisis because of hearing about Solipsism. I started to imagine:

                1. What if I’m just a brain in a vat?

                2. What if all the arguments that seemed to contradict Solipsism (Like yours) is just a trick from the computer so I will not figure a way out of the simulation?

                3. What if the good things that I’ve experienced in my entire life is nothing but my imagination?

                I will wait for your response…


                  1. Why? I only want to ask you those 3 questions. Plus, I’m now still having a hard time overcoming this Solipsistic thought.


                    1. Just reread my article. If I am a solipist myself, then you don’t exist. Now, I’m never going to be able to convince you that you don’t exist. And, similarly, you can’t convince me that I don’t exist. If you convinced yourself of solipsism, you’d have to be able to tell me to my face that I don’t really exist. It’s an impossible argument to make to anyone else. You can only contemplate solipsism when you are alone. If I exist at all, you are wrong. And if you exist at all, I can’t be a solipsist either.

                      In the end it’s just something to think about, but you know I really exist, so you aren’t taking it that seriously.


  9. But what if the people who simulate me in the brain in a vat wants me to notice that I’m simulated? So, they programmed the people to talk about Solipsism to convince me.
    Is that plausible?


    1. That’s some offshoot of solipsism. Solipsism says you are the only conscious, intelligent entity in the universe. You are confusing philosophy with The Matrix and asking how you know you aren’t Neo. Read the fucking essay.


  10. No, it is a real thing actually. There’s this philosopher named Hilary Putnam who created this theory and said that this might support the Solipsistic idea.


    1. OK, so how do you know you aren’t a brain in a vat, or else — why not? — an artificial intelligence in a simulated reality? Probably because there’s zero evidence supporting it, and an avalanche of concrete evidence, and your entire life’s experience telling you otherwise.

      The question then is, how can you deny it as a hypothetical possibility, even if the likelihood is infinitesimally small? And the answers is that it’s so unlikely, and so ridiculous, that to entertain it beyond an afternoon becomes a detriment to your understanding of reality. There’s a very quick point reached where entertaining the possibility shades into losing your grip on reality, and slipping into weak-minded relativism.

      Why worry over something that is intellectually possible, but we know is complete bullshit?


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