The Evils of Solipsism

Some thoughts about truth, solipsism, and evil, in response to Brett Stevens (Amerika.org).

Readership: All

My post from last month, Unconditional Atonement, Limited Election (18 October 2019), examined some Calvinistic beliefs and reflections on Good vs. Evil, and it attracted a hefty response from two noteworthy individuals.

Ed’s post cleared up our understanding of the differences between “goats” and “cattle”, parabolic archetypes that he and I had used in describing different types of people and their contributions to society.

Brett’s response has continued to act as a goad to my contemplations.  This post contains some of the proceedings.

On Objective Truth and Intelligence

First of all, I cannot claim to be a wizard of Truth, nor am I an expert of theology.  In my writings, I am merely reporting what I have learned, perceived, or experienced.  But I have the confidence to write such things because, (1) I believe God is working in and through my life, and (2) I am the primary authority of my own testimony (unless you count God himself as the author).  I postulate that one’s testimony of faith must be based on one’s own perceptions of, and experiences with God.  I believe that Calvin, Wesley, et al. attained their own recognitions of Christ and the Gospel through a similar approach.

I believe this is what Stevens was getting at when he wrote,

“[Nihilism] does not deny external reality, only the term “objective truth,” because truth requires a perceiver; a truth is a statement about reality, not part of the world beyond our heads.  Reality is consistent and “objective,” but no truths can be.”

I’m not sure how Nihilism fits into this argument, but I agree with the next clause, in that a testimony of faith is a statement of one’s subjective experience of Truth.  But I disagree with his claim that there cannot be any Truth that might exist outside of the observance of man.  What evidence do we have that mankind is fully aware of all Truth?  There is strong evidence to the contrary though, namely in the fact that different people have different perceptions of truth.

Stevens explains this difference by the variance in intelligence and awareness.

“…nihilism recognizes that we humans are antennas, and some are able to catch more signal than others.  Some are pointed in the wrong direction; some are broken.  This model explains why people can have radically different perceptions, including insanity, of the same object. […]

Unlike almost all modern theories, nihilism takes into account the variation between human beings.  A dumb person will not perceive as much as a smart person, nor will an insane person observe as much as a sane person.  There are varying degrees of intelligence and sanity affecting level of accuracy.”

It could be possible that I am one of those lacking sufficient intelligence to apprehend truth, so maybe I’m short of understanding in my reading.  But it seems like Stevens is saying that the intelligentsia have cornered the market on truth.  If the definition of truth is confined to a philosophical exercise in logic (e.g. a truth statement: A= B, true or false?), then I might agree that there is a moderate correlation.  Intelligent individuals will naturally be more aware of certain logical truths, or else, able to determine their existence and value, and therefore be able to utilize them more effectively.

However, if you believe that Truth is a living, sentient entity which interacts with reality and affects perception, then there are a multitude of states which exclude one from the knowledge of truth, chief among them are foolhardiness and a lack of discernment.  I believe that prescient discernment takes precedence over one’s intelligence, in the ability to discern Truth.  Furthermore, morality is determined through discernment, not by religious doctrines nor philosophy.

On Solipsism and Foolish Ignorance

Stevens defines basic human solipsism as the condition in which

“…we find our thoughts to be more real and easily mentally digestible than that world out there, so we tend to defer to our own judgments, sensations, emotions, memories, and instincts instead of trying to puzzle out the world.”

From a spiritual perspective, such is one’s experience when one is lacking discernment and understanding – hallmarks of foolhardiness.

“A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.” ~ Proverbs 18:2 (NKJV)

So foolishness is not caused by a lack of intellect, but rather a focus on the subjective which precludes prescient foresight.

“Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, But a man of understanding walks uprightly.” ~ Proverbs 15:21 (NKJV)

In other words, foolishness is a type of moral solipsism and spiritual blindness that excludes discernment and morality.

Stevens goes on,

“Again, solipsism applies in different degrees, probably creating a standard distribution in any population. The Dunning-Kruger effect applies; anything more complex than the mind of the person perceiving will not be understood.”

So we are all fools to some degree.

Although there may exist some correlation, certainly, intelligence cannot (always) be taken as a (true) measure of sanctification (i.e. one’s ability to discern truth).  Likewise, it is a mistake to assume that foolishness, or solipsism, is the opposite of intelligence, or awareness, respectively.

Going back to the earlier section on Truth, if one is foolish and without discernment, there is then such Truth beyond one’s awareness.  In this case, one’s ignorance of the matter would render it objective by definition (not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudices).  This could be rephrased in a Descartes-like truth statement.

“Ego stultum, ergo verum rectus existit.”

Which is translated as,

“I am foolish, therefore, objective truth exists.”

The Dunning-Kruger effect may apply here as well.

Relativism vs. Solipsism

Stevens offered this about Relativism.

“…relativism… holds that whatever you perceive is absolutely true, as if each person lived in a universal and absolute universe of their own where what they perceive is fully accurate.”

Relativism is valuable if it makes one sensitive to the context of a situation, but Steven’s description of relativism sounds like the subjective experience of a solipsistic individual.  The problem with using perception as a source of truth is that perception is highly subjective.  If one is unintelligent (as Stevens emphasizes), or under a curse, or angry, or bitter, or distrustful, or strongly biased because of any reason, then perception will be skewed accordingly.

Collectivism, Self-Reliance, and Solipsism

In the afore cited post, I wrote,

“God has no intentions of either enhancing the world, nor destroying it, but only to use it to break mankind’s bent towards spiritual self-reliance, and bring them into His fold.  Power, money, and control are just the means by which people often seek to avert a self-death, and that is what makes the desire for these things evil.”

Since then, the term “spiritual self-reliance” has introduced some confusion.  Brett Stevens responded,

“…in my view, spiritual self-reliance is the only way to find God; the question is not self or God, but how disciplined the self is, because a mentally disciplined self (i.e. clear, realistic thinking; we are not speaking of cleaning your closet or eating your vegetables here) will naturally find God, since God is a part of reality, and therefore, will become evident the more is understood. […]”

I struggled to come up with the term “spiritual self-reliance”, because I’m reaching for an abstract concept that is difficult to put into words.  The word “sin” might be the traditionally correct term, but it’s too clichéd to carry any meaningfulness.  But Stevens makes the association that spiritual self-reliance (my expression) is more or less equivalent to solipsism (his expression).  We might be getting lost in the woods and definitions here, but if I understand him correctly, I agree with him.  But I wish to emphasize that solipsism can take on a spiritual or existential dimension, as opposed to merely the intellectual or emotional concepts of solipsism.

Solipsism is defined as,

  1. In philosophy, the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.
  2. Extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.

I realize that this is an esoteric concept, so I’ll offer a few arguments (labeled as “examples”), that are more readily comprehendible to the reader, and open to discussion.

Example 1: If solipsism is the belief that only the self exists, then on a higher plane, spiritual solipsism might be defined as the belief that only humanity and the material world exists, and it is implied that god, metaphysics, and the paranormal does not exist.  Thus, spiritual solipsism is essentially atheism in its simplest form.  This view highlights the fact that atheists generally refuse to take a mystical approach, to look beyond whatever information they can readily apprehend through their various senses and faculties of reason.

“The fool hath said in his heart, “There is no God.” ~ Psalm 14:1 (NKJV)

Example 2: In the comments at Amerika, The Crow left this description of “thinking”, which Stevens identified as solipsism.

“Useful idiots think.  Thinking is the epitome of evil.  Thinking describes a state of evil, without addressing or rectifying it.

Evil is the result of abstraction: removing oneself from Reality, and finding fault with it.”

The Crow is describing what I called spiritual self-reliance in my earlier post.  So it does seem that Stevens and I got hung up on the definitions of terms.  The descriptions bear this out.

It is interesting to see that The Crow identifies “thinking” as the basis for the problem of evil, but thinking is merely the human faculty that locks one into a state of solipsism, or spiritual self-reliance (or “sin”).  This view conforms to the superficially mystical adage, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  The falsehood of this adage lies in the fact that there exists good and evil outside of one’s conscious contemplations and faculties of cognitive judgment.  That is to say, if one is unaware that something is evil, or misidentifies it as something good, this ignorance/misnomer does not make it any less evil, it only means that one is naïve/deceived.  Those who call good evil, and evil good are described as “perverted”.  This speaks to the problem of how the solipsistic mind seeks to avert a confrontation with the unpleasant or difficult aspects of evil (or holiness) either through denial or rebranding evil as good (or vice versa).  The thinking of a matter has nothing to do with whether the issue is good or bad.  It has everything to do with how one confronts and adapts to the realities of good and evil.

Moreover, thinking is not entirely evil, as it can also be used to help the soul navigate through the confusion that arises from convoluted definitions of abstract concepts (such as solipsism or spiritual self-reliance), and form comprehensive and prescriptive models of abstract realities.

The Bible speaks to this issue as well.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” ~ Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

Note that the Bible does NOT say, “…be transformed by the rejection of your mind…”, as if though our thoughts and reason are anathema to a healthy spiritual life.

Example 3: A new reader (Julia) left the following comment under an older post.

“Some “red pilled” [authors] say women are collectivists, [while] others say women are solipsists.  Is this not contradictory?”

On the face of it, collectivism and solipsism do seem to be incompatible, but there’s more to it.  Solipsism was defined earlier, while collectivism is defined as…

  1. The political principle of centralized social and economic control, especially of all means of production.
  2. A value that is characterized by emphasis on cohesiveness among individuals and prioritization of the group over the self.

I believe Julia is referring to how women adhere to the social values delineated in the second definition, although women are also known to prefer the social values prescribed by the first.

Perhaps the easiest way to address this question is in terms of agency, and varying degrees of solipsism.  Women are not prone to exercise agency, and less so if they happen to be extremely solipsistic.  As a result of this diffuse locus of self-control, they tend to follow a “herd mentality”, which means that they rely on their social group to guide them, encourage them, and keep them in line.

Individuals or groups that subscribe to a collectivist worldview demonstrate greater orientation toward in-group than toward out-group, and they tend to find common values and goals as particularly salient.  The in-group chosen will naturally conform to each woman’s relative value system and goals in life.  One qualification that is particularly important to women these days for choosing the in-group is that the in-group should not challenge her solipsistic ego nor upset her Feeelz.

One well known way to vet a woman is to review what kind of company she keeps.

15583217863301168764727.jpg

What is “spiritual self-reliance”?

The answer to Julia’s question can be coopted to address the same issue of confusion highlighted in Steven’s post (namely, what is meant by the term “spiritual self-reliance”), albeit within a different context.  To make the associations clearer to the reader, I’ll offer these trite equivalencies to be used in the following discussion.

  • Solipsism describes the isolation of the heart and mind.
  • Collectivism describes the need for mutual support, cooperation, and guidance, among other things. It is assumed that collectivists are not entirely self-sufficient.

When Stevens asserted that “spiritual self-reliance is the only way to find God”, I am sure he was referring to the abandonment of human collectivism (and solipsism) as a path to find personal fulfillment and purpose in life, and then looking within and above to discover one’s connection to God.  My original concept of spiritual self-reliance carried somewhat of the opposite meaning, in that one relies upon one’s self (and not God) in establishing and defending a solipsistic mindset in one’s approach to find a human collectivist meaning in life.  The Biblical story of the Tower of Babel spells out the folly of this approach, and how God has decreed that such endeavors will never come to fruition.  (See Genesis 11:1-9.)

In conclusion, “spiritual self-reliance” is a poor term that needs to be further defined and qualified by context to carry a unique meaning in discourse.  So I believe it’s better to stick to the term “sin”, and to be aware that our minds naturally want to jump around that fact.

Solipsism and the Dunning-Kruger effect

Stevens cited the Dunning-Kruger effect to explain how solipsism comes in varying degrees.  He elaborates further on this point.

“In your average population, ten percent of the people may be close to self-actualized, ten percent will never approach any degree of self-actualization, and most are in the middle, which means that they have small glimpses of accurate statements about themselves and reality in the midst of a mental muddle of impulses, reactions, fears, and hopes.”

This 10% figure seems to agree with what I’ve heard from a couple pastors who ascertained that only 10% of their congregation are “real Christians”.  Yet, the overwhelming majority of church-goers will claim that they are Christians, thereby proving the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Maybe these populations are not equivalent, but could it be that many people perceive (and so subconsciously believe) that being a Christian is in some regards equivalent to achieving self-actualization?  If so, how much of this association is true?  If it’s true, then wouldn’t Christian growth devolve into a Maslow’s pyramid of need satisfaction?  Based on the Seeds and Plant analogy, I tend to believe there is some degree of truth in this.

Maslow pyramid needs

Stevens emphasizes the need for intelligence to overcome solipsism, and I’ll agree that it certainly makes it easier, but how much of self-actualization is dependent on intelligence?  I think it is not so simple to presume intelligence as the key element of spiritual enlightenment.  Discernment and wisdom are likely to be more significant vectors than merely intelligence.  Life conditions and social support networks also play an important part.

“While this will seem shocking to those raised in contemporary dualistic and anthropocentric Christianity, it in fact brings us closer to the pagan roots of Christianity, more the Greeks than the Nordic and Hindu/Buddhist roots.  It sees the divine as a force of order, not a personal connection.  Those who do right by the order rise, those who do not fall, and those who never engage with it just kind of struggle along at an unexceptional level.”

Accepting the nature of the divine as a force of order is one of the most rudimentary steps towards knowing God, even one that many self-avowed atheists will accept in practice (although they stop short of labeling it “divine”).  Yet many cultures and individuals neglect this order entirely in favor of other structures of beliefs about reality, usually to their own detriment.  It is another step closer to God to recognize the overwhelming power and purposes of God, and a step further still to develop a personal connection.  Much farther down the road is the embrace of spiritual maturity, in which one comes to understand the will of God, and develops the discipline to follow along in cooperation.

Just as solipsism appears in varying degrees among different individuals, so too does the opposite, which we might describe as sanctification and the heart-felt knowledge of God.  It is interesting to observe that the Dunning-Kruger effect applies here too, as true, seasoned believers are prone to doubt their faith, while atheists, converged Churchians, etc. remain stubbornly cocksure of their folly.

“However, the bigger point that Sigma Frame makes is the identification of the disease of solipsism.  “Good” applies to those who self-actualize and overcome their self-referentiality; evil applies to an absence of enough good to make someone mostly sane and mostly able to adapt to their world.”

To recap, solipsism is foolishness and the stronghold of sin in preventing one from apprehending Truth.

Related

About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Discerning Lies and Deception, Discernment, Wisdom, Maturity, Personal Growth and Development, Models of Failure, Sanctification & Defilement, Solipsism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Evils of Solipsism

  1. Sharkly says:

    … I’ve heard from a couple pastors who ascertained that only 10% of their congregation are “real Christians”.

    That is a real and huge problem. The solution is simple, yet most pastors will not attempt it. The church is only to be a gathering and fellowship of “real Christians”, not a lukewarm religion-club that each week attempts to reach the 90% unregenerate within their own group. The 90% lost congregation perverts and prevents the church from being what it should be, and makes the church into a repellant group of arrogant hypocrites that is not a light in society, but a blemish on the name of Christ. The lost will not tolerate sound doctrine, and prevent the further sanctification of “baby Christians”. They keep the church in the “milk stage”, while “the meat” is just something talked about, not something digested and lived out.
    The problem is fear/cowardice, pride, and the love of money. Most pastors would not want to risk losing 25% of their congregation, much less 90%. These charlatans let men and women waltz into eternity falsely believing they are Christ followers, because they might occasionally give money in the plate, or volunteer, or fill up the pews. These hirelings tend these blinded sheep as they walk along the broad road down to hell for a few filthy dollars and to maintain their reputation of having a “growing” church.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sharkly says:

    Women are not prone to exercise agency, and less so if they happen to be extremely solipsistic. As a result of this diffuse locus of self-control, they tend to follow a “herd mentality”, which means that they rely on their social group to guide them, encourage them, and keep them in line.

    Which means that on a fundamental level for a patriarch to execute Godly rule over his woman, he must cut her out from the herd and repress all her avenues and attempts to rejoin back into the devil’s herd of “independent”(actually interdependent) foolish women. Solomon didn’t find one honest woman among his thousand wives and concubines. I’m convinced most women lack the ability to even be truly honest within themselves.(their judgement clouded by their solipsism) In the end, Solomon’s personal herd of wives and concubines eventually even got the best of the world’s wisest man. Gotta keep ‘em separated!

    An unrelated thought is that if an attractive woman wants to be approached by men, all she has to do is make herself available by separating herself from her own herd for long enough for a man to quickly notice she is alone, and approach her. Most men know they will not likely pass all the screening filters of every single woman in a group. And in a group of women, it only takes one to reject you to keep the others from being willing to accept you in front of the others who just saw one of their own reject you. So many men are loath to risk getting publicly rejected by some other woman in front of the one he wants to attract. Most men will wait until they can get a moment alone with the woman they want, so as to reduce their vulnerability to receiving a rejection from some member of their group. Any one of them can say “No”.(on behalf of the whole group) To increase the odds of getting a “Yes” most men will want to approach a woman who is alone, or with only “thirsty” friends who are not likely to be screening very hard. Only a few very “Alpha” men have enough charisma to charm a whole group of women and coolly and effectively beat back the rejecters, effectively mocking them and flipping the whole group’s frame of reference when they try to screen him from their herd, leaving them all wet in the panties and open to his advances. But most all other men are going to prefer to get a woman away from the herd for their confidence and charisma to work adequately.

    Like

  3. Sharkly says:

    My above comment contains some possible advice for discerning single women. Only one in a thousand men will have the kind of looks, charisma, confidence, and social skills to repeatedly flip the lifetime nurtured Feminist frame of reference belonging to a whole group of women back to slobbering women in heat competing for him, as “the prize”. And of those one in a thousand men, nine out of ten will be the worst sort of cads, so finding an upstanding Christian one, is one in ten thousand. Of those one in ten thousand men most already have a type of woman they are looking for, and you aren’t it. So of those one in ten thousand men, only one in a hundred thousand might actually be attracted to you as a potential marriage partner, presuming you’re at least a one in a thousand, or better, woman. I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. You’ll almost certainly run out of time before you ever find your Christian super Alpha Hotness who wants to commit to you. Jesus certainly doesn’t owe you your perfect man. In fact Jesus wants you to learn to forgive and overlook the flaws of a far less than perfect man and find your contentment in still serving him, as unto Christ. That’s the truth. So in the end, the success of your home is far more dependent on your own choice of attitude, than your choice of man. You are far better off finding a good man quickly, and working on respecting and helping and supporting him to become a great man. And you won’t make him great by trying to change him! You make him great by finding what good things he is great at and encouraging and enabling him to pursue them with all his might. And by teaching his children and others by your example to honor him at the level you would aspire to have him rise to match. He will not very easily rise above the level to which he is respected by those around him.

    Even if you did somehow find your perfect man, without that reverent attitude of commitment to subjection, as unto the Lord , you would most likely deconstruct him, or he would eventually leave you, not being used to being treated as anything less than a “god”
    .
    And for you married women: If you feel that your husband is somehow less now than the man you thought he was while you were dating him, it is almost certain that you have actively deconstructed the man instead of building him up by being his dutiful helper. Truth grenade! Lookout bitches!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sharkly says:

    LOL Apparently I still forgot to make my advice clear. And I should have used the word “destroy” instead of “deconstruct” above.

    Single ladies, get a little ways away from your herd. Far enough away to share a completely private conversation with a man. Make yourself available. You never know who will see you and approach you. If some dork approaches you, that isn’t the end of the world. Grow up you spoiled children! That is an opportunity to share the love of Christ that is supposed to be in you. If you really want a truly Godly husband, understand, that man will be turned off if he sees you being snotty towards downtrodden men. So will God. Also if a man gets impatient waiting to get a moment alone with you, he may also assume it would be aggravating being married to somebody who never has a free moment for others like himself. Furthermore he would know what a tough job it would be for his whole life, trying to constantly wrangle you away from your herd.
    Make yourself readily available, find a good man quickly, marry him before somebody else takes him, invest yourself into building him up, and then don’t look back, second guess, or waste time regretting your choice once it is has been made.

    Jesus does not owe you a great husband. Holding out, avoiding your created purpose, while waiting for God to bring you the near perfect husband that you feel you deserve, is not Christianity, it is a personality disorder called Narcissism! You don’t need a perfect husband, you just need to learn to live with others who aren’t as perfect as you think you are. LOL I pity any man who winds up stuck with a woman so full of herself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack says:

      There is one important caveat. If a woman wisely chooses her “herd” to be Christian truth-seekers who continually challenge her to grow in faith and encourage her to the same end, then this can be a very positive influence – even one that is necessary. But unfortunately, good peer groups are rare.
      Most women choose their “herd” to be those who only offer imaginings of various evils, and the moxie to conform to this world.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Ed Hurst says:

    One of the things I run into is the false dichotomy between two extremes that seem to crop up all the time. On the one hand is the notion of “objective truth” as if it were a god in itself, something that is static, hard and cold. It’s a false view of the nature of reality that dares to hold the God of the Bible accountable to a rational standard visible only by fallen intellects. They posit that the only alternative position is subjectivism, which is then conflated with solipsism.

    The biblical position is closer to phenomenology: It’s not that there is no truth out there separate from ourselves, but that we cannot know it on our own. All we really have is our experience and our perception, and the latter is often dubious at best. In Scripture, ultimate truth is not a body of dead objective something, but is a Person. Truth is a living being with all the experiential variability we have in dealing with people. And no one person deals with everyone exactly the same.

    Thus, Reality (or ultimate truth) is rather like a person we all know, separate from ourselves, but not interacting with each of us in precisely the same way. We can all get to know Reality and compare notes to find a great deal of overlap, but always with a bit of variation. One man’s “reality” is as good as another’s, because the best any of us can know is God’s will for ourselves. So that we can say, “Reality is fungible.” We can give each other room to make the best guess as to how we should live and try to find common ground.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jack says:

      Ed, thanks for making this important distinction. I had always carried the assumption that objective truth would have to be Jesus and the Word of God. But your comment emphasizes that not everyone would make this association. In the future, I should remember this and make the difference clear. “Ultimate Truth” is a better term to use when referring to the Truth of God.

      Like

  6. Pingback: A collision of two worlds yields the null hypothesis | Σ Frame

  7. Pingback: A Response to Jason’s Comments | Σ Frame

  8. Pingback: A Study of Consanguinity in Modern European History | Σ Frame

  9. Pingback: Three Kinds of Discernment | Σ Frame

  10. Pingback: The Red Pill and Blue Pill as Paradigms of Sanctification and Defilement (with a mathematical analogy) | Σ Frame

  11. Pingback: 3 Things that make Women Tick | Σ Frame

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s