The self that can’t be judged

“I’m the only being that exists because I can only directly perceive my own consciousness.” That’s the argument for solipsism, which most people would deny, of course. Despite the tightness of the logic, there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with it. We naturally believe in other minds, even if we cannot perceive them directly. But there is something about solipsism that does ring true. It acknowledges the permanent privacy of our own inner worlds. And this privacy is comforting because despite the feeling that people can intrude into it, in fact, they can never set foot in its elusive domain. Others might criticise us or judge us or pigeonhole us based on our dress, behaviour and mannerisms. But they do not know who we really are. I can sometimes worry about what others think of me. I’m surprised at this because since I was a teenager, I’ve been quite independent minded. But part of me does care. I can find myself questioning myself about how I fit in with others. I can take on others’ judgements of me and even allow those attitudes to cause me to doubt myself and my direction in life. But I have to remind myself: no one even knows me. The ideas they have about me, are not even about me. Those ideas are a collection of ideas collected from all over the place: books, movies, and imagined ideas about other unknown people. Of course, we all live in this world together and should care about the well-being of one another, but there’s another sense in which we do not need to care about how we are perceived by one another. In this way, the walls that guard our subjectivity are liberating.

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