solipsism and the problem of other minds

“I am the only mind which exists.”

“My mental states are the only mental states.”

“My existence.”

“My mental states.”

“My perception.”

For the solipsist, it is not merely the case that he believes that his thoughts, experiences, and emotions are, as a matter of contingent fact, the only thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Rather, the solipsist can attach no meaning to the supposition that there could be thoughts, experiences, and emotions other than his own. In short, the true solipsist understands the word “pain,” for example, to mean “my pain.” He cannot accordingly conceive how this word is to be applied in any sense other than this exclusively egocentric one.

“What I know most certainly are the contents of my own mind – my thoughts, experiences, affective states, and so forth.”

“There is no conceptual or logically necessary link between the mental and the physical. For example, there is no necessary link between the occurrence of certain conscious experiences or mental states and the “possession” and behavioral dispositions of a body of a particular kind.”

“The experiences of a given person are necessarily private to that person.”

What then of my knowledge of the minds of others? On Locke’s view there can be only one answer: since what I know directly is the existence and contents of my own mind, it follows that my knowledge of the minds of others, if I am to be said to possess such knowledge at all, has to be indirect and analogical, an inference from my own case.

text from:

Solipsism and the Problems of Other Minds by Stephen P. Thornton

image:

The Lovers, René Magritte

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