An alternative concept to the basic idea of what is Me and Not-Me (an interesting one, but one that doesn’t get us very far in this present inquiry) is the proposition that the only reality that truly exists is that of one’s own mind or Self. In this model, all other reality – the external world and everything in it – does not exist except as a representation of that Self. The world, in other words, is a figment of our imagination. It could be suggested that those of you who might agree with this theory and yet find yourselves in great difficulty with that imagined world could, as an easy solution, be encouraged to simply dream up something else.
If you have not had any prior exposure to philosophy, this concept is not as silly an idea as you might first think. In its primary form it is called Subjective Idealism. Many philosophers have spent much time on it and constructed grand theories about it. They have found themselves ultimately impelled to follow the premise, reductio ad absurdum, to the point where the existence of our own imagination (the thing which constructed that world) could be questioned. Therefore – and even more fundamentally troubling – even our own existence could be doubted.
At this point the philosopher Descartes felt it necessary to declare hopefully, “I think, therefore I exist.” I hope so. Let us take him at his word, otherwise things get extremely complicated.