Solitude

Taken from a journal entry dated August 3, 2010:

In the Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt speaks of the differences between solitude, isolation, and loneliness. Solitude is the dialogue with the self, who has had sufficient experience with the world to conduct such a dialogue which is better known as philosophizing. In solitude, one is never really alone because you are conducting a discourse with your experienced self. It is by choice and Arendt attaches a positive connotation to being alone as opposed to being lonely.

Isolation is other-imposed on the self, in most cases by the sovereign. Isolation is often punitive in this sense, but Arendt elaborates another type of isolation which provides the illusion of unity (i.e. nationalism, communism) with the masses and fellow man. However, as Kierkegaard notes, men lose their individuality in the herd mentality. Some are even excluded. This isolation-by-exclusion goes hand-in-hand with isolation-by-illusion. Insiders in the sovereign state may be treated like outsiders (Schmitt’s state of exception or Agamben’s camp) and outsiders are defined in binaries (us versus them, being with us or against us). That is, a suspension of the individual’s moral conscience and ability to reason in joining the herd mentality, thus exiled from his basic humanity and self.

Loneliness occurs as a result of this purposeful isolation. It is against the will of the individual (where isolation in the herd may be consented to through ideological brainwashing). Man is cut off from the human race. He may be in the company of his fellow man, but none choose to recognize his individual existence or everyone chooses to recognize his identity as conglomerated with the masses (communism, fascism). The lonely individual is denied thymos. He is lonely not alone.

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