On solitude and loneliness in hermeneutical philosophy


Although it might seem to elicit only a marginal interest for philosophical inquiry, in 20th century continental philosophy the experience of solitude and loneliness were shown to have unexpected importance and gravity. For philosophers such as M. Heidegger, H. Arendt, H.-G. Gadamer or P. Sloterdijk, solitude and loneliness are to be seen, on the one hand, as an ontological determination of our Being and, on the other, as a cause for some of the most worrisome problems of our times such, as the birth of totalitarianism or the phenomenon of self-alienation wide-spread in the Western bureaucratic societies. But none of the philosophers dealing with these matters offers us a clear positive understanding of what solitude and loneliness actually are nor what the task of philosophy should be with regard to these experiences even though they give us to understand that philosophy has one. The present paper tarries upon this question, approaching it from the other end though an investigation of the status of alterity in Heidegger and Gadamer’s philosophy.

Keywords: solitude, loneliness, understanding, Being-in-dialogue, ontological and ontical autism, ontological cannibalism

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