9 Philosophical Theories That Will Help You Be Okay With The World

It’s easy to feel a little lost in this funny old world, and one way I combat this – potentially isolating – feeling is just to get a little more lost.

Remembering the sheer absurdity of the world is something I personally find very comforting. It’s terrifying to some people, but I love it.

So if like me, you thrive off the unknown – and the millions of opportunities that come with it – you’ll enjoy these:

1. The Big Freeze

Sadly doesn’t involve ice cream. Instead, think the opposite of global warming – and there you have the theory of great glaciation. This is the idea that the universe has a fixed, limited supply of energy, and as this energy runs out the world slows down. 

Heat energy is produced by movement, so if there is a slowdown in movement, supposedly everything would come to a halt. T. S. Eliot once put it, “This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but with a whimper.”

Stock up on the wooly jumpers I say. 

2. Solipsism

Solipsism suggests that nothing exists but our own consciousness. This at first seems ridiculous; how can you deny the existence of the world around you? However, when you put your mind to it, it’s actually really rather difficult to verify anything other than your own consciousness.

There is nothing then, to say that everything around you isn’t a beautifully intricate dream. 

Of course, in response, everyone throws the old,”but I can see, smell touch, hear and feel things, so therefore cannot doubt their existence…”

However your dreams can simulate sensations as well… Have you ever had a dream that feels unbelievably real? 

What you perceive is simply different sections of your brain telling you what to do. So which parts of ‘existance’ can we truly verify? None. Not the toothbrush you used this morning nor the coffee you burnt your tongue on earlier.

Each of us can only be sure in his own thoughts. Which is just a bit amazing. 

3. Idealism

States that everything exists as an idea in someone’s mind… even this blog post you’re reading right now.

Coined by George Berkely, one of the main opposers to the theory came when one of his fellow intelligent philosopher friends kicked a stone with his eyes closed and said, “There I’ve disproved it!”

The idea being that if the stone really only exists in his imagination, he could not have kicked it with his eyes closed.

Still, this doesn’t actually disprove he theory fully, due to the Inception-like nature of the theory – are our ‘ideas’ just ideas within ideas? Bit of a slippery slope and a half this one. 

4. Plato’s Cave

If you’ve done A-Level philosophy, you’ll know this one well. Plato argued that beyond our perceived thoughts of reality, there lies a world of ‘perfect forms’. Reality as we know it is just an imitation; a copy of these perfect forms. This diagram helps demonstrate his thoughts a little clearer.

He argued that by studying Philosophy, we have a chance of seeing the perfect forms and discovering how things really are.

Plato was also a monist, and posited that everything is made of a single substance. Which would mean those socks you’ve been wearing for the last 4 days are created with the same basic material as gold.

This is a pretty cool thought in my opinion, as it just shows just how far money has valued various materials in the world… like one day someone literally attached a random value to something and everyone went along with it, so it just stuck – is everything really just the same?

5. Presentism

All to do with the crazy concept of time. Time, as we know it can be divided into past, present and future. However, presentism argues that the past and the future are imagined concepts, and only the present is real.

In other words, today’s lunch and every word of this article will cease to exist after you have read it – until you open it again. 

The future and past are just imaginary, because time cannot exist before and after it happened, as claimed by St. Augustine.

6. Eternalism.

Eternalism is pretty much the exact opposite of presentism. It’s based around the idea that all time exists simultaneously, but measurement is determined by the observer.

So in some sense, the past, the future and the present all somehow co-exist.
This technically means that dinosaurs and One Direction all exist simultaneously, but can only be observed from a specific location.

7. The Brain In A Jar 

Bit of a wild one, but more of a thought experiment than an actual explanation. It basically suggests that your brain is in a jar somewhere, being controlled by aliens or mad scientists.

Seems a little ludicrous, but how would you know either way?

This leads to the conclusion that we cannot confirm the existence of anything except our own consciousness. Very matrix-esque.

8. The Multiverse Theory 

States that there are parallel worlds, very similar to ours with either little or large changes/differences.

It speculates that there could exist an infinite number of these alternate realities, whereby in one parallel reality you could have been a powerful dictator, or another where you do eat that cake you managed to resist yesterday. The possibilities are endless.

I find this one particularly fascinating seeing as even the tiniest change makes the most enormous difference, even walking a different way to work or wearing a particular pair of shoes changes our encounters. It’s just an incredible thought.

9. Fictional Realism. 

Possibly the most absurd one out of the lot. But we like absurd here so it can stay.

It basically argues that given the number of alternate universes, everything must exist somewhere. We can’t pluck things out of thin air, so if the idea exists in our minds, it exists in another universe somewhere.

Harry Potter is real. Bagpuss is real…. all of our fiction and fantasies may exist in an alternate universe.

So there we go. Whether you feel enriched or de-riched (yes, I’m making words up now) I hope this gave you food for thought. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


More From Thought Catalog