Alienation is the experience of feeling isolated from that to which you belong. This is a common experience that is a pervasive theme of literature, film, music and art. The following are illustrative examples of alienation.
AngstAngst is a fear that life is meaningless. For example, viewing all the problems of the world with a sense that human society is pointless and destructive. Angst can serve as a strong source of motivation that can propel an individual to seek meaning and understanding.
AnomieAnomie, or normlessness, is a feeling of disconnection from a culture to which one belongs. Participation in culture is a basic element of the human experience. As such, anomie is viewed as a negative emotion or state.
SubculturePeople who don't feel connected to the cultures that they belong to by default may seek out like-minded peers to define new culture. This results in subculture and to a lesser extent super culture.
Capitalist AlienationKarl Marx describes alienation as a result of being a cog in a capitalist machine whereby the mechanized realities of capitalism cause feelings of disconnect from human nature. He viewed this as a source of revolution.
Social ExclusionBeing excluded from social groups to which you belong. For example, being shunned by your neighbors for some violation of norms.
Social IsolationA lack of social interaction. This can be caused by a variety of factors including the feeling that you have nothing in common with groups to which you technically belong. For example, feeling that your coworkers are completely uninteresting such that talking to them is dreadful.
RebelliousnessA disaffected view of power structures, traditions, systems and norms such that you feel a strong motivation to challenge things. This can be viewed as a force of creative destruction whereby it is the tendency of each generation to challenge the systems that are imposed on it.
Self-estrangementA feeling that you don't really know yourself or that your behavior does match with your true nature. This may spark a process of introspection and self-discovery.
IndependenceAlienation is a hallmark of independent thinking whereby you do more than simply accept how everyone else thinks. This is why characters in film and protagonists in literature are so often aliened. It doesn't tend to be as interesting to have characters who don't see anything wrong with the world and feel that they perfectly belong to their time, place and circumstances.
Life PhaseIn some cases, alienation occurs for a few years and then subsides. For example, a teenager who feels alienated from their parents who takes a kinder and more connected view of them when they become an adult.
CreativityAlienation is a common experience of artists, musicians and other creative individuals. This may certainly benefit creativity as being isolated from the status quo may help an individual to identify non-obvious ideas.
Self-DiscoveryAlienation may stem from a desire to develop self-knowledge as isolation may benefit self-reflection. In some cases, individuals report being happy while also being quite alienated.
UnaffectednessUnaffectedness is a character trait or state of mind whereby an individual isn't easily influenced by others. For example, an individual who draws upon themself such that their emotions aren't easily swayed. This can resemble alienation and may stem from a sense of disconnection from others. Unaffectedness can also be described as coolness.
FreedomAlienation can stem from reactance and a sense that systems or culture are soul crushing. This isn't an uncommon feeling. Individuals may react to this by seeking freedom. This can be a journey where individuals find that absolute freedom also has its drawbacks such they begin to see elements of culture, tradition and society in a more positive light.
NotesAlienation may serve a purpose that advances an individual's development as a person. For example, teenagers who feel alienated from parents as a means to break their dependence on them as part of the process of becoming an adult.Alienation can be reduced by accepting people and systems as flawed but trying to view them with a sense of empathy and optimism nonetheless.The article above covers alienation as it relates to philosophy.
This is the complete list of articles we have written about philosophy.
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