Philosophy as Estrangement

December 06, 2013 Categories: Articles by

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Goya Il Colosso 1808-1812I never became interested in philosophy primordially or originally. There is no source event or transformation that I can recall as being the defining moment. Stating ‘It began here!’ would be misleading… I am not even certain that I originally attained an interest, or even that I still am interested in philosophy as a privileged object of investigation and investment ‐ an aim in itself. There are, however, moments and situations in my life where an interest in philosophy has appeared or is necessarily forced upon me; these are times when philosophy appears as a seemingly unavoidable and essential questioning of fundamentals,– as a ‘basic’ need. This being said, it can be annoying as well as cumbersome. Philosophy as a ‘basic’ need makes itself felt as an estrangement that has always already taken place. It takes the form of a “Schritt zurück” in which one pulls away from, problematizes and reconsiders the given, including the given sense of community, its presuppositions and even the given self. As now, where I find myself writing this at a seaside hotel and consider whether I would prefer to stroll to the restaurant and chat with friends rather than continue taking pains to scrutinize and reflect. Incidentally a well‐known ‘philosophical’ ‘solution’ or resort since Hume. Concurrently, however, I sense that this latter choice may be lacking in philosophical substance. In such situations, philosophy becomes equated with a tendency towards seclusion – even with being secluded from myself.


Suggested citation:

Raffnsøe, Sverre: “Philosophy as Estrangement” MPP Working Paper Series: 2/2013. Available via

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