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Philosophy the extreme form of scepticism which denies the possibility of any knowledge other than of one's own existence
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(PHILOSOPHY) the doctrine that the self- my self- is all that can be known to exist and that ‘world’ outside ‘exists’ only as the content of individual consciousness. The doctrine arises from a recognition that the ‘objects’ of our sense experience are ‘mind-dependent’. However, solipsism is nowadays thought incoherent, e.g. WITTGENSTEIN argued that it is incompatible with the existence of the language in which the theory is expressed. The alternative view is REALISM, that the world outside can be ‘known’, although the limits of such knowledge of the world remains an issue. Compare RELATIVISM.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an extreme form of subjective idealism, which considers only the thinking subjects to be real beyond doubt, with all other objects declared to exist only in the consciousness of the individual. Solipsism contradicts all of life’s experience, scientific data, and the evidence of practical activity. Consistently maintained solipsism is extremely rare, but it is found in certain philosophers, including the 17th-century French philosopher and physician C. Brunet.

Proponents of solipsism usually try to avoid a consistently maintained solipsism by synthesizing subjective and objective idealism; this testifies to the lack of soundness in the doctrine’s underpinnings. G. Berkeley attempted to escape the accusation of solipsism by declaring that all objects exist in the form of “ideas” in the mind of god, who “inserts” sensation into human consciousness; he thus adopted a type of Platonic idealism. The subjective idealism of J. Fichte also led to solipsism, although Fichte stressed that the absolute ego on which his science of knowledge was based is not the individual ego but coincides ultimately with the self-consciousness of mankind as a whole. Solipsistic tendencies are clearly pronounced in empiriocriticism (see V. I. Lenin, Materializm i empiriokrititsizm, in Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 18, pp. 92–96). They are even more apparent in immanentism, whose exponents included R. Schubert-Soldern and W. Schuppe.

The term “solipsism” is sometimes used in an ethical sense to denote extreme egoism and egocentrism—”practical solipsism,” according to the terminology of the existentialist G. Marcel. M. Stirner most clearly represented this form of solipsism.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Greed, for example, is inherently solipsistic. Think of BP carelessly operating its drilling site just to save a few dollars and leading to the worst ecological disaster in the nation's history, or of corporations seeking unrealistic profit margins and bleeding dry entire industries as a result.
"It's no great feat these days to satirize celebrity culture or the solipsistic virtual existences we create online, and by letting his conceit float in the realm of the fantastical, Tsutsui digs deeper.
At its best, Sabra Loomis's House Held Together by Winds has a scintillating, reverberant persuasiveness; at its worst, it reads like solipsistic autobiography.
He grounds the classics by explaining what they meant to his family, but his biography is supporting material, not the solipsistic main event.
Goytisolo's fiction parodies traditions, dwells on solipsistic estrangement, and with coy postmodern irony questions the attempt to represent reality.
Reflexivity emerges on level 4, level 5 signifies solipsistic consciousness, and on level 6, the I discovers its social limits.
As Weir demonstrates, in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, decadence separated out from naturalism and demanded its own forms (quintessentially Huysmann's A Rebours, a solipsistic text as enclosed as the house in which its hero chooses to live); both Joyce and Gide are said to be best understood if they are set alongside one another in terms of their contrasting responses to decadent convention.
The generous person is not solipsistic. He expresses his recognition of others' status as persons with ends of their own rather than mere things by forgoing from time to time his own satisfactions so that others can benefit.
The Bush years, Podhoretz says, should be thought of as a "solipsistic presidency," guided not by any positive agenda but by the president's concern about how to position himself on each new issue that turned up in his in-box.
"Watching Nacb Spandau, alone in the gallery, one's own solitude links with that of the two unseen protagonists of the film: the artist, in her lonesome wandering among stations whose emptiness is disturbed only by the occasional screech of braking trains; and the architect, with his solipsistic compulsion to create eccentric yet forgotten urban decor.
The sentiments are noble, the analysis solipsistic." WIL BLYTHE
Takeshi Kitano's latest auto-reflexive wallow, "Glory to the Filmmaker!" --the second installment (after "Takeshis") in his self-proclaimed process of deconstruction--kicks off in high comic gear but then descends precipitously into solipsistic chaos.