Friday, 6 July 2012

Pop: Object permanence and solipsism

Object permanence is a trait that very young children develop during a specific stage in their infancy; the exact one depends on the psychologist you listen to. Before this is developed, when a child can’t see an object it will completely forget about its existence. All that is reality is what is contained within their field of vision. 

As we get older the world builds and reality is whatever we have seen. Reality is the combined memory of every single object/life form that has ever entered our consciousness. We add things to our world that we haven’t ever seen, things that other people tell us they have seen and so the realities of every single human being become inextricably linked. If anything we see doesn’t fit with the reality of the majority we presume that it must be a hallucination or a dream. 

But why do we presume that the way the baby’s mind works is the wrong way? A baby’s reality is simply what it has in its head, it is limited by its ability to hold information and so its reality remains small but it doesn’t judge its beliefs based on everyone else. When we gain the ability to communicate we presume that if people see the same thing as us it must be real but to a baby the only reality is what it personally can see. 

Reality is only what you decide reality is. Your senses and the senses of other people can’t be trusted, so all you have is whatever you choose to have. A baby has such a limited range of information that it can hold in its head that its reality is its own creation. It hasn’t been clouded by the rest of us.
The development of object permanence is damaging for our philosophical discovery. We presume if an object exists in our memory it is real. On its own there is nothing wrong with that because as I said reality is our own choice, but when combined with the object permanence of other human beings and our mob mentality we presume that majority memory makes something real outside the existence of human beings. 

Take away human beings and that table, that chair, that bed, cannot exist anymore. And the only ones who truly understand that are the infants that we look down on. 

Pop (signature placeholder) 


  1. That state of infancy is actually a topic in Buddhist thought. When you are an infant, you have not yet developed a sense of ego or self. Not only is your reality only the things you can see, but your perception is that all these things are part of yourself as well. For example, when an infant holds a rattle, he cannot comprehend that this is a separate object being grasped by his hand. Instead, the rattle is part of his own body until it is removed. When an infant is held by his mother, he feels as if the mother has become part of him. The infant doesn't physically comprehend that he has a body and these things are actually a part of it, his brain just hasn't developed yet to understand the true concept of reality and self. Perception and self are all the same thing.

    We eventually lose this feeling of oneness with everything in our reality as we develop ego and everything that comes along with it (property, ownership, selfishness, greed, etc.).

    It's theorized that we spend our lives trying to reobtain this same perception of the world that we once had. This is possibly why people become so obsessed with love and finding their perfect match. Sharing yourself with another human being is as close as some people can ever get to experiencing this feeling ever again. This raises other questions such as, is this a biologically developed trait to promote our desire to breed?

    1. Thanks for the comment, I agee with you for the most part with one minor problem:

      If the baby has no sense of self as you said, then it cannot see the rattle as part of his body, only as something in it's field of vision. Under the idea of your post, the baby has no comprehension of its body so the rattle, its mother and anything else it comes into contact with is treated purely as another element of the baby's one dimensional existance for the baby, in a self-less state, doesn't reckon things by way of posession only of existance.

      The general mapping of our psychological selves thus far doesn't fit very well, as it doesn't try to, with evolutionary theory. Scientists are still unsure as to how the actions of our brains translate to social development and behaviour. To put it simply: Psychology and the current model of evolutionary physiology don't blend terribly well.



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