Theory of Subjective Idealism and a Philosophical Fallacy


Theory of Subjective Idealism and a Philosophical Fallacy

All you touch and all you see, Is all your life will ever be. - Pink Floyd, Breathe


The theory of subjective idealism states that nothing exists beyond what people can see and hear. Everything that cannot be perceived ceases to exist.

Due to our experience in the world, objects only exist in the way we perceive them, the way we have experienced them in the past. We see the world only as we know it, making things we do not know of non-existent.

Something we don’t know of technically cannot exist to us. Yes, we can be open-minded and accept that things out there exist without our comprehension of them. But do they really? We can never be too sure. These philosophical concepts are only out there to help us grasp the way we acquire and store information. Once we’ve learned something new, from that point on it becomes a part of our reality, but not prior to. Once you hear the sound of a tree falling in the forest, you can assume it has fallen. And then later, when you discover that it was something else entirely, you can add that to your bank of familiar sounds and what they represent.

After the above experience it can be argued that one should not be so quick to jump to conclusions about what something is or what it means. After all, our subjective reality, is just that: subjective. At any moment something can happen that will change our belief of what is possible and what can exist. That is a very idealistic approach, but it is one I’ve experienced to be quite accurate in my life. Once I became open to endless possibilities, they presented themselves, becoming a part of my reality and what I began to accept as the norm.

This brings me to my next point: Is Occam’s razor essentially the fallacy of the single cause? And in committing this, do we actively deny ourselves acquisition of knowledge?

The simplest solution is usually the right one. But the concept of simple solutions differs from person to person. What you perceive as obvious is completely different to me. If you hear horse hooves, and you grew up on a ranch, it is obvious to you that a horde of horses is near. To me, who has never heard that before, it might not even be perceivable. It is fair to say then that my subjective reality is different from yours, yet they both exist at exactly the same time. Hence, more than one ‘reality’ exists at any given point in time.

The fallacy of the single cause, or causal oversimplification is a fallacy or reasoning. It states that it is wrong to assume the cause of something is the simplest one. This directly contradicts Occam’s razor, because it tells us taking the most obvious answer is assuming, which is wrong. In order to avoid this fallacy we need to reason deeply before we reach our conclusion.

This is not to say that the reason something occurs is very complex. While the simplest solution could very well be the correct one, it is not correct simply because it is the most obvious one.

Philosophy, from the greek words philo and sofia, means to love and wisdom. It requires us to love knowledge and want to think carefully about any and all issues. If we follow Occam’s razor, and commit causal oversimplification, we deny ourselves the possibility of learning something new. When we assume something is the way it is because of the simplest of reasons we stop investigating, we stop learning, and we stop growing.

Stay thirsty, friends!