Academic journal article Journal of Thought

Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness

Academic journal article Journal of Thought

Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness

Article excerpt

Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness

by Ben Lazare Mijuscovic

In his recent work Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness, Ben Lazare Mijuscovic explores the nature of loneliness, its origins, manifestations, and possible alleviations. Building on decades of scholarly research, the author challenges the dominant behaviorist paradigm and reductionist therapy by placing the problem of loneliness within the dynamic experiences of the mind. Loneliness is presented as innate, universal, and accounted for only by the existence of a self-conscious reflexive entity. Early on in the book, Mijuscovic situates himself as adhering to a form of rational idealist dualism and contends that it is entirely plausible that matter can produce immaterial thoughts (Mijuscovic, 2015, p. xiii). This notion is used to build the author's theoretical framework, which incorporates self-consciousness, reflexivity, and intentionality into a cognitive motivational theory of a priori loneliness (Mijuscovic, 2015, p. 1). In order to develop his position, Mijuscovic relies heavily on Descartes, Husserl, Schopenhauer, and many others, consistently showing his depth of knowledge within multiple fields and challenging the reader to analyze a variety of psycho-philosophical positions. These positions are discussed with the goal of contesting the empirical, materialist, and behaviorist schools, which posit the unpredictable and temporal bio-chemical causation of loneliness. By presenting opposing schools of thought, the author hopes to display not only the philosophical weaknesses of each position, but their fundamentally flawed methods of alleviating the problem of loneliness.

In Chapter 1, "Historical and Conceptual Overview" (Mijuscovic, 2015, pp. 1-16), the author develops his theory of loneliness as an innate experience generated by a reflexive self, a self which has the ability to look both externally and internally. This ability creates a sense of "I" and actively processes sensations and desires which lead to an awareness of one's separation from other spatial objects and sentient beings. This awareness of self, separation, and one's isolation comes early on in infancy. As a result, Mijuscovic argues that loneliness is derived primarily from self-consciousness, not environmental or social conditions. If loneliness is innate, then it is also inevitable. The concluding sections of the chapter are spent addressing the philosophical positions of: materialism, all is reducible to matter plus motion; idealism, all that exists is mental, mind-dependent, or spiritual; dualism, two substances of mind and matter; empiricism, all ideas derived from precedent sensations or the mind as a tabula rasa; and rationalism, some ideas exist which are actively generated from within the mind's own resources. These schools of thought are presented as addressing the question: can senseless matter think? By the end of the chapter, the author has concluded that materialism, empiricism, and behaviorism are inadequate to address the problem of the root of loneliness because they are unable to account for the reality of the self, reflexivity, or intentionality. Instead, these traditions focus on alleviating the problems of present symptoms, often reducing them to the status of disorder or neuro-chemical imbalances. In contrast, the author looks favorably on insight therapy, which presumes the existence of a self, and attempts to alleviate problems through investigating the hidden, unconscious, or irrational features of the mind (Mijuscovic, 2015, p. 12).

The following two chapters, "Philosophical Roots: Self-Consciousness/Reflexivity" (Mijuscovic, 2015, pp. 17-34) and "Philosophical Roots: Intentionality/Transcendence" (Mijuscovic, 2015, pp. 35-74), both serve as theoretical foundations for the author's establishment of a "self" capable of reflexive and intentional activity. Sensations are presented as unable to speak for themselves or establish meaning; they are passive (Mijuscovic, 2015, p. …

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