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Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Did you ever wonder if you are the only real person on earth?

Asked by Skaggfacemutt (9790points) April 8th, 2011

I have seen other questions from people wondering if we see colors differently, taste things differently, or feel things differently. I have taken it a step further and wondered, at times, if I am the only real person and everyone else are just products of my own imagination. Have you ever thought about that?

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33 Answers

rebbel's avatar

I am imaginary, and i write you an answer.
All the ‘people’ who will answer after me are imaginary too, by the way…..

diavolobella's avatar

I actually did think that way sometimes when I was a kid and later on read that it is quite typical for kids to do that. I didn’t think the rest of the world was imaginary though, but more like it was inactive and still unless I was there – like a movie set with dummies that came to life.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

There are times when I thought that would be great.
@diavolobella -“dummies that came to life” snickers ;)

wundayatta's avatar

Oh, God. I thought about this back when I was in high school, as I remember. It was a famous joke. My kids asked the question even earlier. My son was 8 or 9. I suppose that’s not a big deal really, since my true understanding of the issue didn’t come until more recently.

It really doesn’t matter how you conceive of it. Other people might be real, or they might be figments of your imagination, but no matter which you believe, their behavior does not appear to change in any measurable way.

We can say we create the world, and it’s no different from saying the world creates us, functionally speaking. Although, it makes sense to say that we create the world through our perceptions. We have no idea what the “real” world is like, since we can only perceive it through our perceptions, and our perceptions are demonstrably imprecise, and often just plain wrong. No matter. We create the ideas of precise and right and wrong. They didn’t exist before humans showed up.

We created time. We created other measurement systems. None existed before we came along, and because you couldn’t measure anything, you couldn’t prove it existed.

But none of it matters. Our behavior is pretty much the same no matter how we look at it.

diavolobella's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille LOL Come to my office. We’ve got spares.

zenvelo's avatar

I pondered this a lot when I was a kid. This Twilight Zone didn’t help, just made me more convinced everyone “froze” when I left the room.

It’s awfully narcissistic to think God has created this whole world just for one person, don’t you think?

YoBob's avatar

Bottom line is that none of us can be sure that everything we experience is not just a figment of our imaginations. Perhaps that is why faith is important.

SpatzieLover's avatar

My son is five. This is one of the many philosophical thoughts he ponders:
How do I know this isn’t all a dream? How do I know someone isn’t just reading this life out of a book some where? What if I am writing a book in my head about all of the people I see and I create their reality?

I do not think this way. If I had a choice, everyone would be kind and loving. In my life, there would be no negativity or prolonged death. As that is not my reality, I feel quite certain I am not imagining all of this. I would also be taller, wealthier, more computer literate…& on it goes

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Reminds me of Plato: The Allegory of the Cave, from The Republic We are all shadows on the wall of a cave. We cannot see the “real person” only their shadow.

erichw1504's avatar

Yes, I am in the Matrix. Everything but me are just 1’s and 0’s.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My train of thought kind of went like, what if I am the only real being, and so as not to be lonely or bored, I invented all of these people, animals, actually my whole world. Then I have to wonder why I didn’t cast myself into a more important role, as @SpatzieLover said.

marinelife's avatar

No, not you, me.

Mariah's avatar

I remember the first time this idea popped into my mind, I was sitting in 7th grade social studies class, and I looked around at all my classmates around me and wondered if they were real people with real thoughts like I have, or if it was all some kind of trick. Lonliest feeling in the world. Luckily I don’t go living my life believing that, it’s just an odd thought that passes my mind sometimes.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Mariah Yes, it is a very empty feeling. What made me the saddest was the thought that all the people I love didn’t really exist. For me it is also just an odd thought that passes through my mind once in awhile.

Facade's avatar

I do, and it freaks me out!

laineybug's avatar

I don’t wonder that, but I do wonder if my life is like a video game and I’m not the one controlling it. Sometimes I imagine some alien from another dimension making me move around and say things. And then I start talking to someone and forget about it until later.

WasCy's avatar

Not seriously, and not for more than a few moments at a time.

Jeruba's avatar

Some philosophers have devoted themselves to this enigma of perception. Once you get into it, it’s good for endless quantities of cogitative entertainment.

When I was a child I used to wonder whether anything outside myself was real or imaginary: not just people but walls, furniture, dirt, trees, and all the rest of it. More recently I have been inclined to wonder if I was imaginary.

However, in latter years I have come to understand that we can’t define “real,” and so the question becomes moot.

mazingerz88's avatar

No.Never. Though now that you asked, I’m curious as to whether there was ever a philosopher who wondered as such. Crass as it may seem, it was from a Hollywood movie called the Matrix that made me wonder.

Jeruba's avatar

> I’m curious as to whether there was ever a philosopher who wondered as such.

@mazingerz88, did you forget to read the responses above yours? Several addressed that point.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Jeruba Thanks, I went straight to answering without scanning the posts. Maybe we should coin a word for that. Jellyhopping?

dxs's avatar

Have you ever seen the movie Truman Show? Jim Carey is in it, and it can relate to your question perfectly.

MilkyWay's avatar

@laineybug Something very similiar pops into my head…

ariah's avatar

I saw this one person that I was immediately sure was unreal. Now we are best friends, my debate partener and hopefully soon to be my boyfriend.

ddude1116's avatar

If everybody else is an illusion, then I am part of that illusion; therefore everything exists in a similar nature.
@dxs I wanted to see that, is it good?

dxs's avatar

It’s really sad and apocalyptic, even though Carrey is in it. I didn’t find it that funny, more of annoying because these people do such a thing to carrey, treating him like such a subject. I honestly don’t really reccomend it; it’s not that funny, so if you’re looking for a comedy, you’ll be disappointed.

WasCy's avatar


I think you need to watch it again. It’s not “sad and apocalyptic”, it’s heroic. It’s how Carrey’s character deals with the situation that he’s been put into that makes it so. I wouldn’t kid you about this; you have an entirely wrong idea. It’s a great movie for that reason.

ucme's avatar

Only when in Belgium.

dxs's avatar

Either way, I just felt sadder the whole time through. When he finds the end of his “world” in the end of the movie and the “godly” host person tells him that he’s wasted ½ his life in a bubble as a “test”, showing his life publically without Carrey knowing it and there’s a real world out there…it was just so sad. I did watch it a while ago when I was quite younger, but I still think that I carried a similar impression of the movie than I would have after watching it now.

WasCy's avatar

@dxs part of the joy of that movie for me was that he was disabused of his illusions, however long it took. I look around me (and at myself, sometimes) and wonder if we’ll ever learn as much as he did.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

The Truman Show really does give that same feeling. Like a world within a world, and everyone is in on it except you. I love that show, but it is heartbreaking at the end when he is sailing the boat. That part always brings tears to my eyes.

chewhorse's avatar

Because it’s impossible to realize others like you can realize yourself then this can come up quite often .. The problem with this is that if you won’t concede and realize that others are as individualistic as you then you can become distant of others and view them as soul less creatures, serial killers view their victims similarly.. Know that others are as you with souls and self-awareness then you can get on with more important aspects of life.

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