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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
In the volume there is a great deal of attention paid to issues of intertextuality--to Montale in Sereni and Sereni in Montale, Brecht in Fortini, Baudelaire in Caproni, film in the poetry of just about everyone, Rosselli somewhat solipsistically in her own work.
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And Nietzsche, similarly and solipsistically, writes an autobiography that is a reading of his own writing.
became solipsistically married to his system, itself.
As he edits and re-edits, he re-enacts, solipsistically, the immersion in simulacra that defines experience in the outside world.
By this point he is so effectively constituted by his friends, and so solipsistically engaged with them, that their stories have become his own.
It is difficult to think of another oeuvre centered quite so solipsistically on the materials and processes of its own production.
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The binary model therefore limits understanding of non-Western modernism by solipsistically honoring the hegemonic, narcissistic West as the ultimate frame of reference, and reinforces the construction of the West as the Hegelian third term triumphant in its successful absorption of the non-West."
Sellars is quite right to argue against classical empiricism that language does not merely supervene upon a solipsistically completed logical space of meaning.
By refusing to view life solipsistically and accepting the life that best suits her, she is able to reconcile her ideals with the facts and achieve wholeness (Perlis 176).