Solipsism and Knowledge – Philosophy and Religious Studies Programme
|30 Jan 2015|
Abstract: In philosophical discourse, it is normally presupposed that “solipsism” is something bad, something we have to avoid. Almost no philosopher has claimed to be a solipsist, but most of philosophers have accused other philosophers of maintaining solipsist theories. There are, indeed, many good reasons to disapprove solipsism, but only inasmuch it is an ontological thesis. However, as far as epistemic solipsism is concerned, there are much less possibilities to reject it, while there are many good reasons to endorse it. Epistemic solipsism can be in short defined as the position according to which each subject can know only inside the limits of her/his direct experience and that all other kinds of knowledge one is supposed to have consist just of beliefs which, even in the best case, cannot become anything more than well-founded beliefs. Such a position could actually seem quite trivial, or a sterile linguistic sophistry. In my talk I will try to show that epistemic solipsism logically derives from our most common and “natural” understanding of knowledge, i.e. as adaequatiorei ac intellectu or as correspondence between beliefs and facts, and that, if we try to analyze such a (either trivial or unwelcome) result in some depth, we may discover that epistemic solipsism, as trivial as it may be, once acknowledged, brings into focus some fundamental structures of world, mind and experience, and it following enables a virtuous epistemic consciousness as well as adequate (rational and emotional) interaction.
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