The God of Solipsism

I’m bad at intros, so I’m just going to jump right into it.  This is an explanation of a theory I have that, in order for a solipsist to accept that the external world exists, he must believe in God.  Now this doesn’t have to be Yahweh, or any god in particular, it merely needs to serve the function that I am presenting.

If reality cannot be proven to be more than a construct of consciousness, then in order for the external world to exist independently of my consciousness, it must exist, in full, in some consciousness that is at a higher level than mine.  In this case, I am a figment of this higher consciousness’s imagination, as are all the people and beings that I encounter.

Another way to think of it: If I accept that the external world exists, then I must accept the existence of other minds, other minds that, like mine, cannot prove the existence of anything but their own minds.  So unless we are all actively constructing the universe collectively, than there is a mind outside the universe imagining the entirety of it.  Now there may be evidence of the former if we look at quantum mechanics in this light.  If we are all actively constructing the universe as we go, then the more we probe into the inner workings of the universe, the more we have to actively construct.  So you could see the anomalies and contradictions of quantum mechanics as our minds not being able to accurately construct all levels of the universe.  Since subatomic particles behave differently when they are being observed, this theory is entirely possible.  But if the latter is true, then we are simply pushing the bounds of what we can understand being figments of the imagined universe, and only God can fully understand it, if that.

This is not an original concept.  The illustration above represents one version of Hindu cosmology in which Brahma, sitting on a lotus flower that grows out of the navel of Vishnu, who rides on the back of a serpent in a primordial endless ocean (just ignore that part for now), dreams the universe.  Vedantic Hinduism claims that Brahma is all things, and that the universe we live in is Brahma’s dream, and the Atman (the individual self) is a manifestation of Brahma in his own dream.  Hinduism may be one of the oldest religions known to man, not to mention the oldest one still practiced today, yet even here we find the concept of solipsism giving rise to God (or Brahma).

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22 thoughts on “The God of Solipsism

  1. “in order for the external world to exist independently of my consciousness, it must exist, in full, in some consciousness that is at a higher level than mine.”

    Why must it? I’m not following your reasoning….

  2. This seems like an odd combination of Descartes’ ontological dualism–the material world exists as well as immaterial minds–and Berkeley’s idealism. While Descartes accepted the material world and immaterial minds, in the end at least, Berkeley, on the other hand, dismissed the material world, but accepted immaterial minds. For Berkeley, the material world existed in two consciousnesses, our’s and God’s.

    As for the Vedantic Hindu, which has its affinities in the West in neoplatonism and gnosticism and in the theology of Paul Tillich– in my opinion, one of the great thinkers of the last 100 years–Brahman is pure unadulterated consciousness. The illusion is that one has individual consciousness; a seperateness of consciousness. True self-consciousness is the realization that all illusory or finite consciousnesses are, in reality, Brahman: all consciousnesses are Brahman and Brahman is all consciousnesses. The illusion is that humans have a distinct consciousness separate from other humans and God, but, in Vedantic Hinduism, all consciousnesses are one and the same as Brahman.

    I hope this is useful feedback.

    • It was very useful feedback! I hadn’t read into Berkeley’s subjective idealism, but it seems to be along the same lines of what I’m proposing; he simply does not make the leap into God’s consciousness being a collective of humans’ consciousnesses, or humans’ consciousnesses being fractals of God’s, whichever way you want to look at it. I still haven’t seen the Hindu concept linked to this philosophical idea though, but I thought it a great analogy. If you know of anyone who has done so, please let me know. I’ll have to look more into Tillich when I have some time.

      Thanks for the feedback! I’d appreciate your insight on some of my other posts if you get the time. 🙂

      • I’m glad.

        Regarding neoplatonism, I would say read Plotinus, Hegel, Schelling, and, probably, Carl Jung. In gnosticism, Valentinus and Marcion are two that immediately come to mind also Elaine Pagels outlines some of the ways Vedantic Hinduism is linked to gnosticism in her The Gnostic Gospels.

        Regards

      • That’s what I say!

        Seriously, though, I have used a number of arguments that I discovered through blogging in my philosophy classes lol. Although, that approach does not work very well in my math courses.

        • That’s the beauty of philosophy, you can read nothing about it but know everything about it. Supposedly Wittgenstein only read about three books on philosophy in his life.

          • I know he only wrote two book-length philosophical works–Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations. Strangely–perhaps, not so much though because Wittgenstein was a true thinker, as William James would call a doubter–Wittgenstein’s PI challenged many of the ideas in the Tractatus.

          • Yeah his beliefs were pretty fickle, probably due to his troubled mind, but isn’t that exemplary of the nature of philosophy? An approach to a subjective matter that claims to be objective, like a schizophrenic trying to perform psychiatry.

          • Yes, I quite agree. William James said something once, I found the quote in some essays on his lecture ‘Will To Believe,’ that one should “(…) never to have done with doubt on these subjects, but every day to be ready to criticize afresh and call in question the grounds of his faith of the day before(…)” I think one of the large problems with ‘new atheists’ in general–if I can get off on a tangent–is that they fall prey to dogmatic postulations that build upon the philosophical view that science studies reality in its entirety, however, the danger in this method is that, as E.A. Burtt pointed out, “more often than not a philosophy that is held unconsciously is also held uncritically.” Popper all but said the same thing about methodological naturalism. We must remain honest. And if we are to remain honest we must remember the necessity of keeping our feet on the solid ground of natural operations as the foundation of our philosophical speculations. While also remembering that there is an existence outside of scientific measurement, prediction, and control. We cannot veer too far in either direction, but must remain honestly positioned in our speculations.

      • Oh, and another quick tidbit about Wittgenstein. I have heard it said that he despised talking about philosophy socially. He wouldn’t do it. He wanted to talk poetry rather than philosophy. This may not be true of course, but I thought it was relevant and interesting nonetheless.

        • Yeah he preferred discussing it in private, usually with one of his very few close friends, such as Bertrand Russell. Russell recounts in his diary a time he took Wittgenstein to the Aristotlean Society, and how much Wittgenstein despised the experience and all of the members he met.

  3. I used to be quite anxious about solipsism (well before I knew that term), and am always interested in this types of arguments.

    So, let’s see. If I understand this correctly, it seems to be as follows:

    1. Reality is a product of consciousness
    2. If reality exists objectively, it must be a product of a consciousness that can create objectively real things.
    3. A mind able to create objectively real things would constitute a divine being.
    4. Reality is objectively real.
    5. (From 1 through 4) A divine being exists.

    I think the difficultly people will have with this is with premise one. I think any reasonable person would agree that reality may be a product of consciousness, but I don’t yet know of an argument for the idea that reality is a product of consciousness (other than those which independently establish God’s existence).

    My best guess there would be some kind of argument from mind. Science is simply a set of mathematical abstractions without a conscious experience of reality to “feed into” the equations. As such, it could be said that the basis of what we acknowledge as reality is actually subjective, and therefore a product of the mind.

    That still isn’t very tight, but it might be possible to make that work. I’m not sure. I’ll have to think on it (and would be very interested if you have more to add here).

    But, either way, I hope all is well out there.

    • Don’t know why I never responded to this, but thanks for outlining that for me. I’m not a student of logic or philosophy, just an amateur thinker, so I appreciate it.

      Of course this argument is based on solipsism, so my proposition would be if 1, then the rest follows. I’m open to a debate on this logic, but again, I’m just an amateur 🙂

  4. You see this branches off into serious abstract mixed with philosophy. And as soon as philosophy enters into any discussion where some form of theology is the focus than I know the person offering this up as an answer is blowing in the wind.
    Sorry, but if it cant be explained using simple common sense then you aren’t likely to sell it to anyone, and I sometimes wonder if you can even buy such an argument.
    If you can get a five year old to understand , and more importantly believe then I’ll buy.
    Until then…..

    • Which branch of philosophy does not deal with abstractions? And since when is theology taboo to philosophy?

      We’re all blowing in the wind, Ark. Don’t flatter yourself.

      • I did not say it was taboo. This is half the problem!
        The point is if you can’t arrive at an easily comprehensible answer then you are having to, for want of a better word/phrase, ‘Make stuff up.’
        And then your idea of this god becomes different to other people’s, which suggests it is all in the mind.
        And then the midden hits the windmill, just like with religion and doctrine.

        Sorry, mate , but this is grasping, truly.

      • “Midden hits the windmill” – is this original? If so, I applaud you. Hell, either way I applaud you.

        I don’t think this concept is too incomprehensible. It’s one of the shortest posts I’ve written. And it’s a common concept in Hinduism and other theologies. Again, I don’t mean to attribute any properties to this concept of God other than the consciousness in which objective reality is conceived. I can’t help if other people will take it and interpret it however they see fit.

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