The Philosophy of Solitude

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the philosophy of solitude. The state of being alone can arise for many different reasons: imprisonment, exile or personal choice. It can be prompted by religious belief, personal necessity or a philosophical need for solitary contemplation. Many thinkers have dealt with the subject, from Plato and Aristotle to Hannah Arendt. It's a philosophical tradition that takes in medieval religious mystics, the work of Montaigne and Adam Smith, and the great American poets of solitude Thoreau and Emerson.


Melissa Lane
Professor of Politics at Princeton University

Simon Blackburn
Professor of Philosophy at the New College of the Humanities and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge

John Haldane
Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews

Producer: Thomas Morris.

Release date:

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 19 Jun 2014 21:30

Related topics


Melissa Lane at Princeton University


Simon Blackburn at the University of Cambridge


John Haldane at the University of St Andrews




Solitude - Wikipedia





St Augustine, Confessions (Penguin, 2002)


Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy (Penguin, 1999)


Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Broadway Books, 2013)


Albert Camus (trans. Carol Cosman), Exile and the Kingdom (Penguin, 2006)


Daniel Defoe (ed. John Richetti), Robinson Crusoe (Penguin, 2003)


Philip Koch, Solitude: A Philosophical Encounter (Open Court Publishing Company, 1994)


Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild (Villard Books, 1996)


Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2010)


Michel de Montaigne (trans. M.A. Screech), The Complete Essays (Penguin, 2013)


Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self (Free Press, 1988)


Henry David Thoreau (ed. J. Lyndon Shanley), Walden (Princeton University Press, 2004)



Role Contributor
PresenterMelvyn Bragg
Interviewed GuestMelissa Lane
Interviewed GuestSimon Blackburn
Interviewed GuestJohn Haldane
ProducerThomas Morris

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