26 November 2012

An aesthetic argument against solipsism

In his short story The Other, from the volume The Book of Sand, Borges uses an artistic proof to convince his interlocutor (his younger self, actually) that their encounter is real and not a mere dream. He quotes a verse from Hugo (that the young Borges had not yet read), which is so striking that it could not have been dreamed up; the two then communicate across half a century.

This being a Borges story, things are more complicated than the summary above. In particular, the older Borges concludes that, although they had met, the younger one had in fact been dreaming. What I am interested in here is whether the story puts forward a successful argument against solipsism.

Such an argument requires demonstrating the existence of another person, who is:
  • essentially similar, enough to achieve meaningful communication, and
  • sufficiently different, so that it cannot be a figment of the subject's imagination
Does a successful encounter with a work of art fulfill these two conditions?

No comments:

Post a Comment