In some sense, we all need to escape from subjectivity. We all experience different forms of self enclosure and alienation. Whether we fail to make friends as children (or as adults), whether our interior experience fails to harmonize with reality, or reality fails to harmonize with our interior needs, whether we experience rejection personally or professionally–we all know what it is to be in conflict within ourselves because we are in conflict with the world.
This kind of conflict lends a sense of unreality to our lives. In fact, alienation seems to be a major theme of contemporary existence. For this reason, Cartesian solipsism (however untenable) is yet existentially appealing (not in the positive sense). It threatens us.
But when, in-love, we meet someone, when we find a friend, when we encounter and believe the truth in some profound manner, such that we find that what is in us has been echoed, validated, even approved by something or someone other, we experience unity and a sense of belonging. We experience living-in-a-world.
Any attempt, such as Descartes’ thought experiment, which suggests we think ourselves into community, into a confirmation and confidence of the other is in some sense doomed to failure. The other must reveal itself to us. We must experience the other. In trying to construct the world or supply scaffolding for it, we meet not it, but ourselves.
Of course, Descartes was not first and foremost trying to build a bridge into reality by his thought experiment. He was more concerned with proving the immortality of the soul and God’s existence. Descartes was by no means a radical skeptic. But the result of his Methodological Skepticism is that we have been working our way out from our minds for centuries.
This method fails because it fails to see that the I, the ego of the cogito, is only fully and ultimately an I in the presence of a Thou. This has nothing to do with the logical coherence or incoherence of Descartes argument, but with its failure to remain faithful to the existential reality of the human person, which presupposes other persons.