I have a few questions about fear and loneliness

  • What is the fear?
  • Where does the fear come from?
  • Why a person is afraid of loneliness?
  • Why a lonely person tends to isolate themselves even more?
  • 2
    I can say only that there are almost as many formulations of fear as there are philosophers who have wrote on it .. This beta is really only able to be helpful if questions have a fairly precise degree of specificity, and relate to problems closer to an academic, rather than personal nature . If you wanted to use stack exchange you could research & reformulate the question in terms of its physiological and environmental bases and ask this at the cognitive sciences beta .. I see from your profile you're quite young, all I can say is chin up soldier, women come & go, things will get better :)
    – Dr Sister
    Jul 24 '13 at 13:26
  • 4
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about personal rather than academic questions.
    – iphigenie
    Jul 24 '13 at 13:51
  • 3
    Could you rewrite this a little so that there is a philosophical starting point. Events in your personal life leading to philosophical questions are not necessarily bad for this site, I think, but, as it stands, the question is too broad and too vague to get a good answer.
    – Ben
    Jul 24 '13 at 17:57
  • 2
    What @Ben said. Personal issues leading to philosophical questions is fine. But your final questions are more psychology-related. On a philosophical level, one is a bit too broad, and one is a bit too narrow. We could migrate this to the Cogsci SE or you could reword this to be more accessible within philosophy. In passing, also check out a question I wrote about fear a while back.
    – stoicfury
    Jul 25 '13 at 14:31
  • 1
    I dont get it -- if "what is fear and where is comes from" is not philosophy? Then what is? :D
    – Asphir Dom
    Jul 26 '13 at 22:07

It's difficult to answer this question without more context. That personal crisis brings us to question our selves and try to understand our place in life is perhaps a question of practical philosophy. But one needs to know where to begin.

Martha Nussbaum, is an American moral philosopher. In her book The Fragility of Goodness, she explores, what she calls luck (and others call mis/fortune or fate) on what it means to be an ethical being and to live a good or flourishing (eudaimonia) life. In her opening section she comments on a few lines of Pindar, a Greek lyric and praise poet:

But human excellence grows like a vine tree

fed by the green dew, raised up

among wise men and just, to the liquid sky

She herself writes:

The excellence of the good person, he writes, is like a young plant: something growing in the world, slender, fragile, in constant need of food from without. A vine tree must be of good stock if it is to grow well. And even if it has good heritage, it needs fostering weather (gentle dew and rain, the absence of sudden frosts and harsh winds), as well as the care of concerned and intelligent keepers, for its continued health and full perfection. So, the poet suggests, do we. We need to be born with adequate capacities, to live in fostering natural and social circumstances, to stay clear of abrupt catastrophe, to develop confirming associations with other human beings.

The poems next lines are:

We have all kinds of needs for those we love:

most of all in hardships

but, joy too,

strains, to track down eyes it can trust

She continues:

Our openness to fortune, and our sense of value, here again, both render us dependent on what is outside of us;...because we encounter hardships and can come to need something that only another can provide; our sense of value, because even when we don't need the help of friends and loved ones, love and friendship matter to us for their own sake. Even the poets joy is incomplete without the tenuous luck of seeing it confirmed by eyes, on whose understanding, good will, and truthfulness he can rely on.

Her book is on the vision of life by the tragic poets and dramatists of ancient Greece. Plato, although (apparently) a promising tragic poet turned away from this vision in an attempt to find a way of living life that would become impervious to the viccissitudes of fortune. His way is the way of contemplation. She considers this a radical solution - almost denying the body. She shows how Aristotle tries to harmonise what is best in the poets with can be salvaged from Plato.

Bearing in mind what Nussbaum has said, let us follow the thread of thought of Octavio Paz, a Mexican writer who published in 1950, an essay - The Labyrinth of Solitude. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1990, and this essay is worth quoting from at some length as it touches on some of your concerns:

Solitude - the feeling and knowledge that one is alone, alienated from the world and oneself - is not an exclusively Mexican characteristic. All men, at some moment in their lives, feel themselves to be alone. To live is to be separated from what we were to approach what we are going to be in the mysterious future. Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition...Man is nostalgia and a search for communion. Therefore, when he is aware of himself he is aware of his lack of another, that is, of his solitude.

Although, Octavio does not say so, he is referring to the symbolic myth of Eden in Genesis where man is cast out of the green world when he is aware of himself. This is also reflected in the Greek myth of Prometheus who having brought the fire of intellect, the divine spark of consciousness is punished by the gods.

All our forces strive to abolish our solitude . Hence the feeling that we are alone has a double significance: on the one-hand it is self-awareness, and on the other it is a longing to escape from ourselves. Solitude - the very condition of our lives - appears to us as a test and purgation, at the conclusion of which our anguish and instability will vanish. At the exit of the labyrinth of solitude we will find reunion and plenitude and harmony with the world.

The labyrinth is of course the inescapable lair of the mythical minotaur and was killed by the Greek hero Theseus. He is helped by the monsters half-sister Ariadne who guides him out of the labyrinth via a thread she had tied to him. This is the reverse of the North European folk-tale Sleeping Beauty where the prince wakes the princess. Of course both are tales of sexual awakening, of love and of socialisation to the adult world.

Jung said, to lose Ariadnes thread, is to lose the thread to life. Borges, the Argentinian writer, in The House of Asterion, expands the myth by expanding the labyrinth to take on the proportions of the entire universe, Asterion (the Minoan name for the Minotaur) himself has forgotten he has created the labyrinth - he wanders it, lost - and looking forward to death, his redeemer; which does come as Theseus. He remarks to Ariadne later, before he abandons her in Naxos for her sister, 'that the Minotaur hardly defended himself'. Borges is writing here about the death of the Christian God and skillfuly inverts Christian narrative of Man being redeemed by God, of God being redeemed by Man.

In our world, love is an almost inaccessible experience. Everything is against it: morals, classes, laws, races and the very lovers themselves...Modern eroticism, is almost always rhetorical, a complacent literary exercise. It is not a revelation of man; it is simply one more document describing a society that encourages crime and condemns love.

If Paz was writing now, it would be a complacent virtual or visual exercise, rather than a literary one.

Society pretends to be an organic whole that lives by and for itself. But while it conceives of itself as an indivisible unit, it is inwardly divided by a dualism which perhaps originated when man ceased to be an animal, when he invented his self, his conscience and his ethics. Society is an organism that suffers the strange neccessity of justifying its ends and appetites...too often they even deny mans profoundest instincts...when this last occurs, society lives through a period of crisis: it either explodes or stagnates. Its components cease to be human beings and are converted into mere souless instruments.

At the dawn of the American age, that is just post the Civil War, Walt Whitman sang out the organic wholeness of America in his long muscular lines, which two centuries later at Ferlinghettis City Lights bookshop shaped into one long Howl by Ginsberg in 1955. This was predated by the visit of the Spanish Poet, Lorca to New York where he wrote a seminal sequence of poems including this:

Dawn arrives and no one receives it in his mouth

because morning and hope are impossible there:

sometimes the furious swarming coins

penetrate like drills and devour abandoned children.

To continue with Octavia Paz:

Industrial societies, regardless of their differing 'ideologies', politics and economics strive to change qualitative human - that is, human - differences into quantitative uniformity. The methods of mass production are applied to morality, art and emotions. Contradictions and exceptions are eliminated, and this results in the closing off our access to the profoundest experiences life can offer, that of discovering reality as a oneness in which opposites agree.

Mercantile values replacing personal ones, is the diagnosis offered by Arthur Miller in Death of a Salesman in 1949. Francis Bacon in Britain was painting solitary figures cubically arranged in positions of estrangement.

The child must face an irreducible reality, and at first he responds to its stimuli with tears or silence. The cord that united him with life has been broken, and he tries to restore it by means of play & affection. This is the beginning of a dialogue...through magic the child creates a world in his own image and thus resolves his own solitude. Self-awareness begins when we doubt the magical efficacy of our instruments.

Adolescence is a break with the world of childhood and a pause on the threshold of the adult world. Solitude is a distinctive characteristic of of adolesence. Narcissus, the solitary, is the very image of the adolescent. It is during this period that we become aware of our own singularity for the first time. But the dialectic of the emotions intervenes once more: since adolescence is extreme self-consciousness it can only be transcended by self-forgetfulness, by self-surrender.

The literature of modern nations are filled with adolescents, with solitaries in search of communion: the ring, the sword, the vision. Adolescence ends with entry to the world of facts.

It is a world of facts, because it is a shared world, and thus objective one.

Solitude is not a characteristic of maturity. When a man struggles with other men or with things, he forgets himself in his work, in creation or in the construction of objects, ideas and institutions. His personal consciousness unites with those of others: time takes on meaning and purpose and thus becomes history.

During vital and productive epochs, therefore a mature man suffering from the illness of solitude is always an anomaly. This type of solitary figure is very frequent today, and indicates the gravity of our ills. In an epoch of group work, group songs, group pleasures man is more alone than ever. Modern man never surrenders himself to what he is doing. A part of him - the profoundest part - always remains detached and alert. Man spies on himself. Work, the only modern god, is no longer creative. It is endless, infinite work, corresponding to the inconclusive life of modern society. And the solitude it engenders - the random solitude of hotels, offices and shops and movie theaters - is not a test that strengthens the soul - a necessary purgatory. It is utter damnation, mirroring a world without exit.

Since you posted this under Existentialism, its worth thinking about this in the context of Camus - The myth of Sisyphus, and Sartres drama of the soul - No Exit


PAIN is the answer, to be more specific past experience of the pain is followed by fear from repetitions. Any kind of pain can be involved. Fear is natural, but should be guided. Fear is coming from your unconscious, your "reptile brain", it is your instinct. But you have a brain of human, with sensorium and you can tell consciosly to your "reptile brain", what is going on, to control your fear. Otherwise the results will be not rational.

About lonelines I cannot give clear answer as it is specific to each person. Someone feels safe when lonley (fear from relationships), other one feels fear of lonelines (fear from absence of relationships. This mostly depends of their previous experiences.

PS: The question/answer is more about psychology/psychotherapy than about philosophy


Fear is a feeling and state of mind which forces us to believe that the situation is going to happen or we're worrying only which is never going to happen. Fear arises from much more tension/worry. Some time if we did some thing which we should not and we worrying because we know the result of our action which we don't like.

For loneliness I agree with @Dee

About loneliness I cannot give clear answer as it is specific to each person. Someone feels safe when lonely (fear from relationships), other one feels fear of loneliness (fear from absence of relationships. This mostly depends of their previous experiences.

But as per my point of view, we're social animal and that's we need accompany of people around us. We feel safe when they're with us and we feel fear when we're alone. As you told that when you're alone you even feel more depression because we all know that An empty mind is Devil's workshop. Means that in loneliness our empty mind force us to think Negative thoughts only and actually they're (situations/results/consequences) never going to happen.

So if you feel fear when you're alone then definitely get company with your friends, parents, guardians or with whom you feel safe, you can free yourself, can free your heart.


First of all - we ALL feel same way. Everything will be great. There will be new people and new ideas. Just give it some time.


Fear is there to awaken us and make us think (make us better beings).

Fear is there to make you aware that you have BODY.

The origin of fear is god.

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