Sometimes it is GREek: Solipsism


“Poetry resembles metaphysics: one does not mind one’s own, but one does not like anyone else’s.” – Sam Butler

“It’s not GREek!” loves to discuss new words that are likely to appear on the GRE.  We aim not only to give you a new word to memorize, but also to provide you with some background and etymological history to help you remember it.  At the end of the post, we will also give you a sentence with a few other new words to add to your flash cards.  By following this weekly series, you should be more prepared than ever to tackle the sentence completion, sentence equivalencies, and reading comprehension questions on test day.

This Week’s Word: Solipsism

Solipsism is the extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; it is an egotistical self-absorption.

Solipsism also has a less egotistic and more ego-oriented definition. To philosophers, solipsism is the theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified; this is the theory that the self is the only reality.


“But what can a decent man speak of with most pleasure? / Answer: Of himself. / Well, so I will talk about myself.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

From the Latin solus, “alone” + ipse, “self,” solipsism holds that self is the only object of real knowledge; it is a skeptical hypothesis and ultimately leads to the belief that the external world is merely a representation of the individual self. Often considered a bankrupt philosophy, critics argue that a solipsist communicating philosophical ideas is ludicrous as, by definition, a true solipsist believes there is no other mind with whom they can communicate their beliefs.

Sample Sentence:

Salutary solipsist, Solomon, sanguinely salutes sophisticated sophistssophomoric sensibilities.

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