07 November 2013

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Is solitude necessary for human beings?

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Is solitude necessary for human beings?

Given the importance of the need for solitude in our lives there is
always the danger of misplacing the philosophical issues by issues of
lifestyle, and thence forth the world of charlatans and mind bending
mongers. But the hard part for us is maybe to actually find the
philosophy in all this. In the meantime Ruel has prepared an essay for
us and I have written a few paragraphs as well.

Hello Lawrence,
Here´s the link to the essay I wrote for the PhiloMadrid topic on Sunday.

See you on Sunday.

Is solitude necessary for human beings?

We have all needed or wanted some quiet moments alone away from the
hustle and bustle of life. Some of us seek these moments more often than
others, while others seem to live in a quasi universe of solitude. Long
moments of solitude are also an established way of life for the
religious and gurus of all cultures.

Furthermore, the social, anthropological, medical and personal benefits
are not in doubt. And although scientists have proposed many reasons and
articulated many benefits of solitude to the point that one might be
confused about what the truth is, what is clear is that yes, we do need
moments of solitudes.

At face value, solitude seem to be very much like sleeping, we need to
sleep regularly, we need to rest and recover our mental and physical
strengths; and when we sleep we are completely shut away from the rest
of humanity and the environment. Of course the basic difference is that
we do and need to do it when we are conscious, whilst the benefits of
sleep have to be done when we are not conscious to the environment
around us; although senses perceptions e.g. hearing are still alert to
our surroundings when asleep.

This would be a very good reason to suggest that solitude has nothing to
do with being lonely or escaping from the reality of life. Indeed, we do
speak of escaping for a quiet moment, but of course this is metaphorical
escape i.e. being away from others or maybe to have a rest. Loneliness
and shutting ourselves from the rest of the world do not seem to be
caused by the same process of solitude.

In my estimation, the key factor about solitude is intention. And
although sleep seems to be more of a biological process rather than an
intentional one, most of us have quite a lot of control when we go to
sleep and, in many cases, how long for; the rat race notwithstanding, of

There is nothing intentional about loneliness and maybe isolation from
one's group due to some medical condition, such as depression. Solitude
is not only a deliberate act to be away from others but more importantly
we in constant conscious control of our solitude. Thus, the suggestion
that solitude can turn, say, into loneliness is a misunderstanding of
the meaning of solitude. Indeed one can be lonely and still would
appreciate moments of solitude.

I would, therefore, put the opposite state of solitude as stress (or
extreme pressure from one's current life) and not loneliness. Both are
an emotional state and certainly physiological reaction to one's
environment especially one related to other human beings, although not
exclusively. And although the need for a few quiet moments and the need
to relieve stress can be quite pressing we can still be in control of
our lives that we can deal with these needs without having to change our
personality. To escape loneliness one has to change one's personality
let alone one's life style.

So the question for us is what causes the need for solitude? The fact
that we need to take time out from other people around us suggests that
this could very well be a biological instinct and not only an intention
of a conscious mind. In the raw state of biological life, other human
beings are competitors in the survival game even though without the
cooperation of other human beings we would stand a chance of surviving
for long.

The "other" fact is that we tend to seek solitude for reflection,
thinking, peace of mind, and charging the batteries which suggests that
solitude is an exercise to restore our mental faculties. However, these
functions are usually associated with meaningful and deep occasions.
Maybe even activities that at the end of the processes we are more
enriched in character and personality. This is, of course, not the
personality change I referred to regarding loneliness. Nor are they
activities we perform for normal every day issues: time to think about
what to prepare for lunch tomorrow, time to reflect on an email we
received, thinking what to wear in the morning and so on.

To recap, the philosophical issues regarding solitude and us are: a
wilful intention to seek solitude, conscious control and management of
our life when we are in a period of solitude, is the traditional
comparative context of solitude justifiable?, solitude more suitable for
mental restitution rather physical recovery, and, finally, we seem to
need solitude for more enriching purposes of who we are. Solitude, it
seems, is more suitable for survival strategies based on mind games
rather than muscle projection.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at O'Donnell's
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Is solitude necessary for
human beings?

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