It’s only recently that I’ve been able to admit to myself that I am a philosopher. The identity always felt a bit exotic to me — philosophers, in my mind, were novel human specimens that one read about in textbooks and Wikipedia, not someone I could be myself. More recently though, I really got into dwelling on the meanings of things, and perhaps more importantly, articulating them. I’m at a point where my core philosophies seem to stem from two primary perspectives, and in this post I’m going to try and describe them.
In 2016, I was beginning to explore my mind and starting to really develop my model of reality, consciousness, and people. This exploration took me to many fields of philosophy and metaphysics, including relativity and quantum mechanics. One of these mental travels had me getting off my train in the land of solipsism. From Wikipedia:
Solipsism; from Latin solus, meaning ‘alone’, and ipse, meaning ‘self’) 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; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind.
I took a few steps out of the metaphorical station and gazed around, transfixed at the fantastic views and overcome with deja vu. I’d been here before, but had not spent much time admiring my surroundings. And my oh my, were they simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. I quickly realized that while solipsism did not guide my everyday life, I held a certain reverence for it, as something I did not have the means to rule out — and possibly never would!
During my initial NRE with solipsism, the world looked different. Somehow, every mundane nuance of life on planet Earth seemed to have come under a spotlight — everything I was seeing was in my mind, a part of me! As my reality stabilized again, I realized that solipsism, and the inability to rule it out, must be a part of existence for everyone (if they existed 😉) — at the very least, a subconscious reality governing all humans (and possibly other sentient beings). This was profound, and helped shape my empathetic growth in the following months.
This leads me to the two fundamental perspectives that govern my world view:
- Reality is completely within myself.
- Reality exists external to me and I merely perceive and interpret it within my limited means to do so.
Neither of these express objective truth. They are both simply perspectives, to be applied when appropriate, tools to help me move through the world. Here are just two applications, out of which emerge my vision for the world:
- Everything I know, sense, and perceive, is within me and a part of me. The world is a hallucination, and I am, as far as I know, an ultimate engine of creation and expression — for if there was such an ultimate engine, it cannot be known to be external to me. I own my model of reality and have the means to effect change within it. I am incredible.
- Everything I know, sense, and perceive, is external to me and I am merely experiencing the part of it that is accessible to my humanity. I am tapping into a great reservoir of truth equipped with not much more than a metaphorical teacup from which to consume it. There must be all kinds of phenomena to which I am not privy. Others in the world before me and alongside me have developed systems and societies that, when working properly, enable us to thrive together. The world is incredible.
I’ll leave you with this gem from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”— Albus Dumbledore/J. K. Rowling