On the road to Solipsism–which is the doctrine not that I matter to nobody but that nobody exists but me–on the road to Solipsism there blows the same wind of loneliness which blows on the road to the house with walls of glass which none can break. In the labyrinth of metaphysics are the same whispers as one hears when climbing Kafka’s staircases to the tribunal which is always one floor further up. Is it perhaps because of this that when in metaphysics we seem to have arranged by a new technique a new dawn we find ourselves again on Chirico’s sad terraces, where those whom we can never know still sit and it is neither night nor day?
We may hurry away and drown the cries that follow us from those silent places–drown them in endless talk, drown them in the whine of the saxophone of the roar from the stands. Or, more effective, we may quiet those phantasmal voices by doing something for people real and alive. But if we can’t we must return, force the accusers to speak up, and insist on recognizing the featureless faces. We can hardly do this by ourselves. But there are those who will go with us, and however terrifying the way, not desert us.
A favorite passage from my teacher, Lewis White Beck. It is from his book, The Actor and The Spectator.
Only A. C. Ewing, I think, has indicated a possible transcendental argument against solipsism. He said, “If solipsism is true, there are no solipsists, since I am not one.” This short way with solipsism, almost a throwaway that Ewing consigned to a footnote, seems to me to be profoundly important.
The solipsist position has never been maintained if it is true, because if it is true I alone could have maintained it, and I have not done so…
I believe this argument, invented by Ewing, is likewise usable by others and not discountable when extended to others. This argument will carry no weight, of course, with another person if he is a genuine solipsist who knows his business. But, if there is such a person, I know that solipsism is false since that person is not I.