Epistemic loneliness is the fundamental and unsolvable paradox between the desire of man's consciousness to have meaning met with the universe seen as existing without God.

Man's consciousness can be thought of as a hole in Being, or nothingness. Just as nature abhors a vacuum , consciousness abhors its own vacuous vortex and is constrained to seek in futility the plentitude of Being in order to fill up the lack, or non-being, that it is. One attempts to unite the emptiness and nothing that comprise his consciousness (Being-for-itself) with the fullness of Being, as objectively instantiated by the non-conscious Being-in-itself. However, according to some philosophers, this unity is impossible, and thus humans are nothing but a futile frustration to be something they cannot.[1]

Loneliness as a universal principle

Epistemic loneliness is seen as innate. In the view of Ben Mijuskovic, all acts of consciousness and conduct are inevitably motivated by the wish to escape or evade loneliness.[2] However, to do so is impossible because consciousness is so constitute that loneliness serves as its sovereign a priori. In other words, loneliness is an absolutely universal and necessary principle. Because of this, loneliness is the prism through which man views reality, without being aware that it is a prism.[1] Mijuskovic believes that there can exist no theory through which one can rescue himself or others from this loneliness, as any action he takes is simply a result of the "master motivator;" loneliness itself.[2]

Sartre's view: man as an isolated entity

Jean-Paul Sartre saw the essential struggle of epistemic loneliness - to unite the emptiness of nothingness with the fullness of Being - as only unifiable in the concept of God. Indeed, mankind's frustrated attempt to create this harmony within itself is yearning for divine-like repletion. Thus, Sartre viewed God as the projection of human epistemic loneliness, while man himself is nothing else but loneliness forever frustrated by its fruitless endeavors at self-completion.[3]

Sartre believed that love is mankind's most radical attempt of consciousness to transcend its own loneliness. Through love, he argued, man endeavors to annihilate its contingency and satisfy its esurience for the abundance of being. Sartre believes that lovers are attempting to preserve their "internal negation" (freedom) while eliminating their "external negation" (epistemic loneliness). However, since these two freedoms cannot be reconciled into perpetual unity, love is doomed. Any apparent unity between the two is self-deception; an "illusion of fusion" which will serve to propel the lovers into more devastating epistemic loneliness than had they not tried to escape it.[3]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 McGraw, John (1995). Loneliness, its nature and forms: an existential perspective. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Department of Philosophy, Concordia University. pp. 48–51. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mijuskovic, Ben. Loneliness in Philosophy, Psychology and Litterature. Assen, Netherlands: Van Gorcum. pp. 1–38. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sartre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness. New York: Philosophical Library. pp. 456. 

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