Does The Reality Exist Only In My Mind?
Updated: Aug 28, 2022
A very important question we must ask ourselves is whether reality exists at all, outside of our minds. Of course, if we say that the reality exists just inside our minds, it would mean that our minds came into existence before the reality. It may also be the case that the mind emerged from inanimate matter in the reality, and the reality exists independently of our minds. First, why should we ask if reality exists outside of our minds? The answer is simple. We need to ask this question simply to determine whether consciousness is a fundamental property of reality or whether it is an accidental emergence.
It is obvious that all I can account for is the existence of my mind. Nothing else. You are just a part of my system, where I am a whole. But in the same way, you can account for the existence of your mind, and so can every conscious being in this world. Does this not mean that a plurality of consciousnesses exist?
Of course, consciousness is always experienced in the singular. Schrödinger explains this in the epilogue of What Is Life? He starts by saying that “I… am the person, if any, who controls the ‘motion of the atoms’ according to the laws of Nature.” In other words, Schrödinger reconciles the facts that my body functions like a pure mechanism according to the laws of Nature and I have a sense of free will and control (to some extent) over my actions, by saying that I am the one who controls my body according to the laws of Nature. So, I am God. Schrödinger then explains how consciousness is never experienced in the plural, and why the plurality of our physical bodies gives rise to the idea of plurality of ‘souls.’ “The only possible alternative,” he says, “is simply to keep to the immediate experience that consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown; that there is only one thing and that what seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing...” This idea of oneness is not new. It is a common idea that one thing is at the root of everything and the addition of different perceptible properties over this same one thing is what creates different things. In Mind And Matter, Schrödinger stresses that the unification of minds or consciousnesses can resolve the apparent paradox that a plurality of consciousnesses creates one world. However, I don't agree with him that the unification of consciousnesses is really necessary. I have no trouble believing that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, and many consciousnesses have emerged from physical matter in the same, objective reality. Oneness might seem to be a very appealing idea, but we don't have enough scientific evidence that supports oneness, in my opinion. In other words, I think reality exists objectively, independently of our minds.
But let us assume oneness is true, for a moment. Let us assume there is only one consciousness, and I am this one consciousness. I have just erected in my imagination the world I see around me. But then, what happens to this world after my death? Obviously, it must also cease to exist, since it has no independent existence outside my mind. But we can also think of it this way. Suppose I never have to die. Suppose the fact that people are born and die is just part of the story I am writing? My mind has created a belief inside me that I must die, but this belief is based on the story I am writing out for myself. Falling for this option is comforting since it leaves open the possibility that I might never have to die. However, it is in itself a possible description of the world. It is neither provable nor improvable. But just consider, if this is the case, then I am writing this just for myself. This is pointless. Suppose you read this and have a discussion on this matter with me. But you do not exist. You, your reading this blog and your discussing solipsism with me is all part of the story.
In the end, solipsism may or may not be true, there's no way to prove. I think it is a pointless concept. Just treat it as a possibility. Nothing more. To some people, it is a pleasure. I am the only one who exists. I am everything. Others end up feeling lonely and depressed about it. I, to be perfectly honest, have no difficulty accepting solipsism as a possibility, but still I would say it is a pointless concept. And although I admit solipsism is a possibility, in the end I like to believe in an objective reality.