Delve into the world of loneliness, and explore the many aspects of being lonely. What does it feel like? Is it one and the same experience?
About The Many Faces of Loneliness
What does it feel like, to be lonely? Why does it hurt so much? In the opening lecture of this series, social philosopher Andries Baart will introduce us into the world of loneliness. He starts from the observation that loneliness is actually not one unique experience. Rather, loneliness describes many different kinds of experiences in all kinds of contexts: from grief to boredom-to-death, feelings of abandonment, lack of direction and lack of recognition. What is more, how we experience loneliness, depends heavily on the way we talk about and value loneliness. And we actually do this in many different (conflicting?) ways: from considering it a health threat or a traumatic experience, as an indispensable part of human life, or as something to strive for – think of the Buddhist monk or the lonely writer. Is all of this loneliness? What is it then, that we experience when we feel lonely?
About series ‘Loneliness: Living Apart Together’
You're no exception if you have felt lonelier than ever, during the past months of lockdown. But what exactly is this loneliness we are talking about? After all, skin contact or being in the same room are no guarantee to feel connected, and social isolation is not the same as loneliness. Think of passionate love letters or making friends in an online game community. Also, one can truly enjoy spending time on one’s own without being lonely. Conversely, one can feel very excluded in a group of friends one belongs to, abandoned by the community one is part of, lost in a crowd, or in bed with someone. So what is loneliness? Is it one and the same experience? Is it the same to you, as it is to your friend or your fellow student? And to what extent is it shaped by cultural and social ideas and the stories we tell about loneliness and lonely people?
About Andries Baart
Andries Baart is a philosopher, social scientist and theologian. He is the intellectual father of the theory of presence, an approach to care that focuses on the relationship to the other and emphasizes attention, patience and attunement to the other and their needs. Baart combines field research with fundamental and theoretical research in the area of care, wellbeing and service provision, spiritual care and the ethics of care. He held professorships at the Catholic University of Utrecht, University of Tilburg and University of Humanistic Studies. Currently, he holds a visiting professorship in Presence and Care at University Medical Centre Utrecht and an extraordinary professorship in Intergenerational Care at North-West University (South Africa).
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