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Faith and Proof

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  • jimstuart51
    Wil (44016): Solipsism is an insincere position. It cannot be maintained by anything more than stubborn foolishness. That I even have to respond again to it
    Message 1 of 54 , Mar 29, 2008
      Wil (44016): Solipsism is an insincere position. It cannot be
      maintained by anything more than stubborn foolishness. That I even
      have to respond again to it is just ridiculous.

      Knott (44025): That is incoherent. How do you have proof beyond what
      you hope to believe (otherwise known as having faith, and Christians
      and all sorts of religions have that -- and I'm sure you'd poke fun
      at them), that you know for certain even you exist, let alone others.
      My initial reaction to this statement is that you don't have much
      imagination. That is, you are seeming to suggest I am a solisist, um,
      but I'm not sure I exist. And really that it is impossible to not
      believe other things exist. Well, I have no proof, and your books
      don't offer any.

      Jim (now): I agree with you here, Knott. I do not have `proof' that
      anybody else exists (even that I myself exist, perhaps), and that I
      do have to rely on `faith' to view you, Wil and everybody else as
      existing human beings just like myself.

      However, it could be argued that someone who has faith that God came
      to earth as a human being in first century Palestine and someone who
      has faith that other human beings and a material world exist have a
      slightly different sort of mental attitude to the other.

      Kierkegaard for one, called the Christian faith `faith in the eminent
      sense' to distinguish it from the non-solipsistic form of faith.

      I think Kierkegaard thought that it was more of an achievement to
      have Christian faith rather than the non-solipsistic kind of faith.

      From an atheistic point of view, I want to argue that Christian faith
      is less justified than non-solipsistic faith, but if I put my
      sceptical hat on, I'm not so sure I can argue this.

      So, I disagree with Wil – I do think faith is involved in my belief
      that I am one human being living amongst others. But I also disagree
      with you – I think non-solipsistic faith is a good mental attitude to

      I think there are other kinds of faith which it is good to have as
      well. I also have faith that I and you and everyone else have free
      will. Again, this is not something I can prove, but it is something I
      live by.

      Following Kierkegaard, I think of faith as a commitment to seeing
      things a certain way, and also a commitment to acting in a certain
      way. I choose to see you as a human being like myself who, also like
      myself, has free will.

      On this way of looking at things, you are either choosing differently
      to me, or, possibly, not choosing at all, a bit like Sartre's
      flirtatious woman who chooses to ignore the man's hand on her leg.

      I've draw a line here to indicate I now wish to make a completely
      different point, which may be in tension with what I say above the

      I can accept that your sceptical (even solipsistic) outlook is fully
      your own position – a fully original position, but it does follow
      closely the reasoning of Descartes.

      Heidegger's whole philosophy can be seen as an attempt to present a
      completely different conception of thing to Descartes, a conception
      in which human beings first, and fundamentally, conceive themselves
      as embodied beings living in a material world with other embodied
      beings, and are such that the first-person inside-looking-out view
      can only be accomplished at a later stage of psychological

      Now I concede that Heidegger's argument is no `proof' that other
      human beings exist, but it does, in my view, constitute a powerful
      argument for the me-amongst-others, non-solipsistic, view.

    • bhvwd
      ... arctic. ... as ... and ... exemplified ... always ... mistakes. ... world. ... WILD PLACES TO SEEK---WHATEVER? I have gone out many times and have had
      Message 54 of 54 , Apr 2, 2008
        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "mary.jo11" <ophiuchus@...> wrote:
        > "bhvwd" <v.valleywestdental@> wrote:
        > "Into the wild" , a film about cutting away from all
        > other people. The protagaginist starves to death alone in the
        > He found out that living alone was just not worth the effort of
        > fighting for life. Living was too big a pain in the ass so he
        > experienced lonelyness and then fear and then died.
        > Bill,
        > It's an excellent story and expresses many existential themes such
        > alienation and absurdity. McCandless traded the pain of human
        > relationships, with their shaky solidarity and complicity in the
        > world's problems, for that of solitude in the beautiful but
        > indifferent wilderness. All along his journey, and ultimately, he
        > confronted the compromise between the need for individual freedom
        > camaraderie. The wild farmer and the counterculture couple
        > this best, as they seemed the most aware of their choices.
        > There are so many different ways to think and live. This discussion
        > group is a wonderful example, even if some have the need to prove
        > their perspective is right or true. If I compare McCandless' choice
        > with that of Sartre and Beauvoir, the idea of commitment wildly
        > asserts itself. Neither is correct after all, because there are
        > unforeseen dangers and the high probability that someone, at some
        > point, will change their mind and be incapable of reversing
        > Sartre and Beauvoir had nearly 50 years longer to engage with the
        > I understand both choices.
        > Mary
        WILD PLACES TO SEEK---WHATEVER? I have gone out many times and have
        had danger I did not expect and quiet revelations that remain
        generally formless. Fighting back from great defecits seems to
        instill a calmness that supresses the panic reaction in stressful
        situations. It makes you a trained troop rather than a tenderfoot.
        Those exciting times have left me with a perspective of smallness, we
        just do not count for much in face of the many mighty forces around
        us. Our species seems much more adept at destruction in the name of
        any supposed good that seems handy. In the end it is just an exercise
        in rudeness, destruction and murder. In that I try to avoid the many
        manic types rushing around for their nefarious purposes. I can
        call back some of the aloneness when I can garnish a few moments of
        silence. It will not be troublesome for me to fade away, I am
        already there in the peaceful part of my mind. I seldom add to the
        havoc about me and feel guilt if I do. I openly demand order and
        quiet about me and will leave the scene if it is not present. I am
        becoming old, steaming fodder but at least I no longer have a gun in
        my hand. It seems meet and just to become older. Bill
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