Christopher Hitchens’ use of Solipsism
Posted: 07 May 2013 10:23 PM   [ Ignore ]
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It seems like Hitchens would frequently use this term to describe Faith-Based Thinking. I’m not sure this is quite accurate, but I kind of appreciate what he was trying to explain. It’s kind of a grey area.

I mean Solipsism is when a person only acknowledges their Reality because of their own thoughts and feelings. (I think therefore, I am) As far as they can tell people in daily life are no more or less real than people they might encounter in a dream. I don’t think even most religious people are quite literally to that point.

Yet, do many humans fail to appreciate other humans have independent minds just like theirs?  In a vague murky way, I think maybe this is true, and I wondered if this is what Hitchens meant.

This state of mind could arise unintentionally when people rise to positions of power in Politics or Religion which insulate them from the general public. At first, they try to be responsible leaders, but then, they try to mold the population and society based on how they’ve lived their own successful life.

I guess in general, I’m not sure the term Solipsism was quite right, but I feel Hitchens was grasping at a very critical issue that needs to be looked at. I also think in a way American Foreign Policy is tainted by this and that is why we keep trying to “Spread Democracy” to the Middle-East. 

Or in a more mundane way, this leads to the Bad American Tourist who visits another nation while expecting food and amenities like back in the U.S..

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Posted: 08 May 2013 03:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I googled a little, and found following:

Literally quote from Hitchens:

Beware of solipsism. Don’t ever think you are the center of the world. Be very careful of assuming that you are the object of a divine design. That there’s something special just about being you. That that’s all you have to prove - that, why wouldn’t a person such as yourself have God on their side; Why wouldn’t it be - ‘of course God would care who I slept with, what I ate, what holy day I observed, why would He not? Surely that’s why the heavens are arranged in the starry beauty and array in the form they take.’—You are forced to wonder, if maybe - even though it’s a less beautiful thought - it could be that the galaxies are not arranged with you in mind.

And this in a review:

I also love how Hitchens equates religion with solipsism several times in the book (something that theists love to throw at nonbelievers). Although Hitchens doesn’t give the reasons why religion practices soliphism, if you think about it, theists have concern only for themselves and their fellow believers (damn those that don’t convert). Religion comes entirely from the mind of believers and solipsism claims that knowledge only comes from the self. This fits religion to a tee because their only source about god and the supernatural comes from holy scriptures, written by fallible men, or from their own selfish minds. Nothing about supernatural religion comes from outside the mind; it comes entirely from the self, the very essence of solipsism.

Hitchen’s descriptions have nothing to do with the philosophical position of solipsism. For feeling the centre of the world, but the world is still real, we have the concept of egocentrism. I don’t know which concept would cover many egos collectively feeling themselves the centre of the world. Etho-centrism? Doesn’t fit exactly either. So in my opinion Hitches uses ‘solipsism’ loosely as ‘just looking at their own ideas, instead of the world outside’.

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“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

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Posted: 08 May 2013 08:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Appreciate the feedback. I had wondered if Hitchens was being loose with the definition, for lack of a more precise word to describe what he observes.

I also wondered if there could be degrees of this and the definition just describes Pure Solipsism.

Ego-Centrism also comes close.

Somewhere in there is also probably some Narcissism.

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Posted: 08 May 2013 09:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Solipsism is the belief in self as only reality, at least the the only thing somebody can be sure of is that he or she exists, and that true knowledge of anything else is impossible.

I don’t think you can have degrees of having belief in self as the only reality and it certainly goes further than egocentrism or Narcissism. It is the idea that one can only be sure that oneself exists and that everything else that the self senses or thinks it senses might be a figment of the imagination.  In short, one can’t be sure of anything but that the self exists. (I think, therefore I am.)

Lois

[ Edited: 09 May 2013 09:48 PM by Lois ]
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