I have a BA in Philosophy and my question is, How do I accept the belief of God existing if I don't
have the ability to knowanything. I can only know what I see from my eyes and there is even no
proof that this reality is really existing or just a part of my mind. This reality could just be a dream that
seems real to us but is just an illusion. How and why am I here existing on this planet if it really is a
planet? Why was I brought into this world with no answers? Did God create me and he knows all the
answers? is it that simple? What is your take on this?
This question is primarily concerning solipsism, derived mainly from Descartes. The assumption that
drives such scepticism is that to know a proposition it must be immune from doubt, or indubitable.
Subjective appearances seem to satisfy this criteria, i.e. 'this appears to me to be such and such'. But
the sceptic denies that we can move from this to propositions about mind-independent things, i.e.'This
is such and such'. I could be dreaming. We have no reason to believe that there is a world at all. The
hypothesis that the world is an invention of my mind explains the facts just as well as the hypothesis
that the world exists as it appears to.
An initial response might be to try to diffuse the argument completely, before it even starts. We might
say, following Heidegger, that the 'scandal of philosophy' is not, as Kant had said, that there has
never been a proof of the external world, but rather that such proofs are attempted again and again.
Heidegger's view was that the question itself arises from a confused metaphysic, that sees man as
something separate and distinct from the physical world. A correct understanding of man as dasein
(literally translated as 'there-being') would undermine the thinking behind the question. This approach
has much going for it, but it would be more attractive to defeat the sceptic directly; to solve rather than
bury the problem.
Much is made of the dreaming argument, that we can never tell whether what we think is the world is
a dream or not. But good arguments have been given to show that we do have very good reasons for
supposing that we are not now asleep, or at least to show that it is not true to say 'I am now asleep'.
If I ask myself the question 'Am I awake?' I will answer affirmatively. A sceptic might respond that I
have to prove this, and challenge me to point to something that would count as proof. But this ignores
the fact that I can only be challenged if I am awake, otherwise I will have only dreamt that I was
challenged. As Wittgenstein says (On Certaintypara. 383) 'The argument "I may be dreaming" is
senseless.. if I am dreaming, this remark is being dreamed as well — and indeed it is being dreamed
that these words have any meaning.' If the world is a dream then so is this argument, and so is my
belief that the words in it mean anything at all. And It makes no sense to doubt whether we
understand our language: a claim like 'I cannot know what these words mean' can never be true.
Arguments such as these try to make the solipsism advocated in the question incoherent. And this
shouldn't be too difficult. Apparently Bertrand Russell received a letter from a man who said that he
was a solipsist, and couldn't understand why everyone else wasn't as well. This may not be true, but
it is true that philosophers argue about the question, presumably someone arguing the case for the
non-existence of the world. This situation clearly is absurd, and it seems right that Heidegger should
call it a scandal.
As Wittgenstein remarked, should someone stumble upon a group of philosophers arguing this
question, we should have to assure them that they were philosophers and not insane. But perhaps
we shouldn't be so lenient.
(N.B. The question, 'Why was I brought into the world with no answers?' is no more troubling than the
question, 'Why was I brought into the world with no wings?' We'd all like answers, but then again,
most of us would like to have wings more.)