Thoughtful Thursday: Humancentric Views and Solipsism in Ergo Proxy

“This signifies that the world also cannot exist unless those who have given life to it exist.
The world cannot exist as a world unless someone acknowledges its existence.
It’s just like these stacks of books that rot without anyone to read them.”
~Vincent’s Proxy from Ergo Proxy episode 11

My favorite episode of Ergo Proxy is probably episode 11, “In the White Darkness: Anamnesis.” Vincent Law is separated from Pino and Re-l, wandering in the mist and trying to find his ship. That’s when he finds a peculiar bookstore with an even more peculiar shopkeeper. In the bookstore, Vincent goes through a series of strange visions and dream-like experiences, which are actually all happening inside his head. The bookstore keeper is a part of Vincent, the part that knows who he really is, and the part that is a Proxy.

Many fascinating, thought-provoking topics and points are made and discussed in this episode. For this post, I focus on only one of these interesting themes: the idea that the universe exists because people are observing it. Without human observers, would the world be there? The common sense answer is yes. But some evidence from quantum physics suggests otherwise– (the details are beyond my current level of understanding, though). Those evidences may fall apart under the weight of centuries of natural science, but the argument stands up to philosophical debate, at the very least.

The idea that the universe wouldn’t exist without human observers is an example of a “human-centric” or “anthropocentric” view. But you may be wondering what exactly this has to do with Ergo Proxy. Well, it’s a post-apocolyptic kind of world, where the seas are frozen, the lands are bare, and the air was unsafe to breathe for a time. According to the Proxy within Vincent’s mind, the world became this way because most of Earth’s inhabitants are no longer there. The world cannot end entirely, because in place of large human populations, there are small communities of modified humans, plus Proxies like Vincent, still observing the world.

You could say that “humancentric” isn’t exactly fitting for Ergo Proxy, because there are also the creatures known as Proxies. As almost god-like beings, these creatures do most of the observing of the world, as well as manipulating the world and making changes to cities with their vast power. It’s a human-and-proxy-centric universe. I just wanted to introduce the idea of anthropocentric philosophy to readers who may not have heard of them.

No, it’s not ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Yes, it is ‘I think, therefore you are.'”
~From Ergo Proxy episode 11

The quote above repeats the concept that people (or Proxies) are the observers that make other things exist. The idea that the individual is the only real being, and that reality and everything in it are extensions of one’s mind, is known as solipsism. Rather than being humancentric though, solipsism is self-centric. In Ergo Proxy, the minds of proxies and people really do shape reality, but in our world, things don’t work that way. Solipsism doesn’t stand up to rational debate. Besides, the philosophy is a dangerous one. It makes the self the master of all reality, and other people are simply inventions of one’s mind. Some say Light Yagami of Death Note is a solipsist; one of the show’s main musical pieces is named “Low of Solipsism.”

Thank you for joining me for this discussion of philosophies in Ergo Proxy. I can’t say enough how I appreciate people reading my posts. It makes my day, and over the last 3.5 months, it has noticeably improved my happiness. Thanks and enjoy you day! Ja ne!

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2 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday: Humancentric Views and Solipsism in Ergo Proxy

  1. Interesting. Now that I think about it, the title is definitely a reference to Descartes’s “cogito ergo sum.” Have not watched, but now I do want to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You should. It’s pretty great. I definitely think you’re right about that reference. The virus that the androids are getting in the show that makes them able to think is also called Cogito.

      Liked by 1 person

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