Nietzsche on the virtue of solitude (Einsamkeit)
Mark Alfano (Australian Catholic University)

August 23, 2019, 7:00am - 8:30am
Department of Philosophy, Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity

Treacy Boardroom
278 Victoria Parade
East Melbourne 3002

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities



Topic areas


For Nietzsche, solitude is the drive to get away from, and often above, one’s in-group or local community, to view that community and its values critically, and to divorce oneself from aspects of the community that one might otherwise adopt uncritically and by default. This drive tends to be associated with pangs of loneliness, alienation, self-doubt, and even despair. However, just as the ability to laugh at oneself is an important part of self-criticism, so the ability to look from a distance and a height down on one’s community is essential to cultural critique. Solitude thus opposes vices like chauvinism, narrow-mindedness, and cozy cultural smugness. In addition, solitude is essentially restless. One sojourns in solitude then returns with cultural critique. One incessantly adopts new perspectives on his own community. For example, in Daybreak 114, Nietzsche suggests that “intellectual benefit” accrues to anyone who experiences “profound solitude.” But solitude’s value is not only epistemic. It also contributes to emotional wellbeing. In Daybreak 177, which is titled, “Learning solitude” Nietzsche declaims, “O you poor devils in the great cities of world politics, you gifted young men tormented by ambition who consider it your duty to pass some comment on everything that happens.”

Practical details

Public Transport: Trams: 109 (to Box Hill), 12 (to Victoria Gardens): Tram, stop 13 (Landsdowne St. ACU).

Buses: From City: 302, 303, 304, 305, 309, 318, 350, 905, 906, 907, 908. Stop: ACU.

Nearest Train Station: Parliament Station. Exit Macarthur St, go north until Victoria Parade, Turn right, 400 metres (CTC building corner of Victoria Parade and Eades St, - the Southern Side of Vic Parade, located across from what was until very recently - the Dallas Brooks Hall).

Parking along Vic Parade and at the ACU (on Young St).

The Treacy boardroom is on the ground floor, very close to the reception desk of the Thomas Carr Centre, which is the campus building at 278 Victoria Pde. There is a wheelchair-friendly toilet/bathroom on the same ground floor a short distance from the boardroom.

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