A lot of famous "holy men," like Jesus and various biblical prophets, as well as monks are single and even celibate.

Are a lot of famous philsophers - outside of religious figures - similarly single or celibate? If so, did any of them explain why they chose not to marry or have "normal" relationships?

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    I think it's hard to live a "normal" life without a companion, and it's hard to live a normal life with one. Most people have to choose between having a family and living a life of mediocrity or climbing the world's most forbidding peaks by themselves. I've also read a lot of stuff about people finding significant others who are exceptionally smart difficult to be with. I think they're often characterized as arrogant and morally self-righteous. Sep 28 '17 at 19:30

Relatively few great philosophers have been married, or had children, whether because their minds were on higher things, or because they were impossible to live with is hard to say. It is also hard to know which ones were actually celibate, as opposed to just unmarried.

Plato famously promoted nonsexual love as superior to sexual love, which is where we get the term "Platonic relationship" for a nonsexual relationship. Wittgenstein and Turing are known to have been homosexual. Kierkegaard broke off his engagement, and then luxuriated in the guilt and regret. Simone De Beauvoir had a long relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre that never led to marriage, although he did propose. Kant lived a life of famously monastic regularity, although he did have plenty of friends.

On the other hand, Socrates was married to a much younger woman, with whom he had three children (and according to one account actually had two wives simultaneously). He was perversely proud of her reputation as the most unpleasant woman in Athens, and called her an ideal spouse for a philosopher, because she made him long for the quieter embrace of eternity.


Talking about philosophy and sex, St Augustine's and Immanuel Kant's got to be mentioned: the former for its hilarity and the latter for its consistency with theory and practice.

St. Augustine, torn between his mother's Christianism and his father's Manicheanism during his formative years, is famously known for his pray: "Lord, give me chastity and temperance, but not now."

Kant, despite his life as a single man, is known for his condemnation of wanton self-pleasure (= masturbation). To Kant such pleasuring is immoral since it is treating oneself as a mere means, which violates his humanity doctrine, which states that we should never act in such a way that we treat humanity, whether in ourselves or in others, as a means only but always as an end in itself.

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    Deprivation, or avoidance of pleasure, seems to be a major theme not just in some religions but among warriors in various societies. In fact, the traditional "manhood ceremony" typically involves torture and even self-mutilation. I assume warriors just go through this in order to prove their toughness and resistance to pain. Sep 30 '17 at 0:20

The ascetic virtues of humility/poverty/chastity are exemplified by certain philosophers lives -- for instance, Spinoza; note that Deleuze brings up these virtues in relation to the thinker in the introduction to his Spinoza: Practical Philosophy.

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