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Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology, and Literature: Third Edition Paperback – April 20, 2012
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About the Author
Ben Lazare Mijuskovic earned a master's degree in comparative literature and a PhD in philosophy; he is a licensed clinical therapist. He currently teaches in the philosophy and humanities departments at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is also the author of The Achilles of Rationalist Arguments and Contingent Immaterialism, as well as numerous scholarly articles.
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Top Customer Reviews
Consider the following examples: When a toddler has misbehaved, how is he/she frequently punished? Perhaps by sending them to their room or to time-out; a situation in which they will be isolated away from the rest of the family. What about a criminal inmate who requires additional punishment? They are sent to solitary confinement. Do you remember the Tom Hanks movie, Castaway? While isolated from the rest of society on an island he went nearly insane.
I loved how Mijuskovic integrated Greek and Roman mythology, Biblical stories, and other writings into his book to continually support the theme of loneliness. I am an avid lover of mythology and religious stories so I enjoyed having these themes incorporated into this book. When he discussed the punishment of Prometheus or the story of Job I found myself really connecting with the material and considering his theories. He does make some very valid points and he has a great perspective on human behavior.
As I said, this isn't a book for everyone but it was a fantastic book for me. I enjoyed it immensely! I will admit that the vocabulary is quite elevated in some places and I did have to refer to my dictionary more than a few times to make sure that I was comprehending the material correctly but I don't mind doing that. I enjoy expanding my vocabulary. There is no doubt that you will read this book and come away with a new perspective on human behavior, even to the point where you question your own motives. I found myself doing that this evening when making plans for the weekend. My husband and I both were discussing whether we wanted to go out to this big festival because we wanted to experience the festival or if we simply didn't want to be alone. What was our motivation? Were we seeking an experience or additional human companionship? You will consider what loneliness is, how it is defined, and how it impacts your life and society as a whole.
If you are interested in human behavior, philosophy, psychology or simply curious about identifying your own motivations behind your decisions this is well worth picking up and reading. I finished it in two days easily simply because I couldn't put it down.
- Closed the Cover -
The author draws on sources from Sartre to Thomas Wolfe--and from Freud to Edmund Husserl--but for the general reader the prosecution rests after a dozen pages. His early nod toward the work of Anna Freud suggests that half of the institutionalized infants displaced by World War I died--for lack of a better description--from broken hearts. Another grisly reminder is that of Edward II, of Sicily, who infamously tried to reveal the true language of humankind by removing tots from their mothers and denying them the sound of the voice. All test subjects died. Another: the fact that widows and widowers often do not survive their spouses for more than six months. But perhaps more fundamentally than this, our inherent loneliness is an axiom we understand entirely without proof: we are born alone, suffer our dying breath alone, and indeed we spend our entire lives alone (every one of us experiences the paradox of solitude in a crowd).
Even so, Mijuskovic's thesis is controversial, and he provides a full defense from direct and indirect opposition. The most noteworthy example is John McGraw's 2010 textbook "Intimacy and Isolation," which calls Mijuskovic out by name and vice versa. McGraw argues that loneliness is behavioral, not original, and that we condemn ourselves to separation anxiety with our ethical lapses: "capitalitis," "stuffitis," "discarditis," and so on. Mijuskovic's response is that loneliness is the result of universal, necessary psychological developments, resulting from--indeed, part and parcel with--the newborn's inability to distinguish himself from what he sees. This individuation follows a highly predictable path throughout childhood, puberty, and young adulthood, whether we are prone to crass capitalism or not. Now, as adults with properly-defined senses of self, we require intimacy and recognition no less than we required individuation as children.
As stated above, "Loneliness" is immediately persuasive, inherently convincing, but its relative silence on the matter of neuroscience is not. In one early, telling passage, Mijuskovic writes "If one is to reduce the mind to the brain and its physiological mechanics and chemical elements, it would seem to follow, as a direct consequence, that loneliness not only could be but indeed should be addressed with medication." But if solitude is the necessary result of fundamental psychological development, pharmaceutical treatment would be ineffective at best, damaging at worst. Moreover, "Loneliness" is a slow, often difficult read. The general audience will have to leave many claims wholly unchallenged; what else would we do with statements such as "Husserl rather compromisingly depends on Cartesian, Leibnizian and Kantian constructs"? A lifetime of technical study is represented in brief but deceptively weighty statements such as these, and there are many.
Yet as an introduction into the conception of solitude, Mijuskovic's book is a well-argued, confident source. Fittingly enough, "Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology and Literature" stands on its own.