Segments in this Video

Meet the Panelists (01:29)


Host Jonathan Derbyshire explains the format of the debate and introduces Author and history professor Kate Williams, professor and author Simon Glendinning, and explorer Ed Stafford, who will discuss and debate the values of solitude.

Kate Williams: The Pitch (02:21)

Williams thinks that though society is valuable for learning and creativity, it pushes people into false, performative selves that only solitude remedies. Studies suggest that the abundance of social media today inhibits the mind and leads to worsened mental health.

Simon Glendinning: The Pitch (05:11)

Glendinning explains Heidegger's Conception of the Self and Others. He did not think of the self as an internal realm, but established as being outside of other people.. Heidegger was of the opinion that humans are not able to understand themselves without basing the understanding off of other people.

Ed Stafford: The Pitch (05:48)

Stafford spent 60 days isolated on an island without any clothes or tools and found that without other people and substances to distract him, he was terrified and unhappy. He describes an aboriginal way of thinking of three brains: the gut or instinct, the heart and emotion, and the logical brain which is the smallest and is the only one occupied by Westerners.

Theme One: Is Our Self the Product of Society? (07:01)

Williams feels that the sense of self in Britain today is dictated by the capitalistic style of the society; understanding what someone does for a living is often the first part in understanding who they are. Glendinning explains Heidegger's perception of the self as viewing each person as replaceable and public.

Theme Two: Can We Know Ourselves Through Solitude? - Part One (03:15)

Stafford describes relationships as a sort of drug that feeds into self-esteem. He felt that prior to his experience spending 60 days alone on an island, he had an exterior he was hiding behind and that his experience helped him develop a sense of self.

Can We Know Ourselves Through Solitude? - Part Two (08:12)

Williams touches on the three brains of the aboriginal people that Stafford referenced, agreeing that the logical brain is indeed like the tangled fishing net he described. Glendinning says that being alone is distinguished, being alone in a crowd is possible and being isolated on an island are different, while an individual conceived in isolation is another story yet.

Theme Two: Can We Know Ourselves Through Solitude? - Part Three (06:35)

Stafford recalls periods of being alone on the island where nothing felt meaningful; being without people was like going without an addictive drug. He remembers audio hallucinations that he experienced during his period of self-induced isolation. Glendinning says that people must take stands on who they are and that people are all constantly in existential solitude.

Theme Three: Should Society Make More Space for Solitude? (08:01)

Williams says that in society, women's identities are historically more performative and have to be, in the same way that a servant is to a master. Glendinning says that Heidegger had a romantic ideal of a simplified life in a small community and that social media today is a place of anonymity that he is not sure is healthy for human beings.

Credits: Myself and Others: Are We More Alive When We are Alone? (00:07)

Credits: Myself and Others: Are We More Alive When We are Alone?

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Myself and Others: Are We More Alive When We are Alone?

Part of the Series : Institute of Art and Ideas: Cutting Edge Debates and Talks from the World's Leading Thinkers
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



We often think being alone is something to fear. Yet it has been an integral component in the lives of many of our greatest thinkers. Are we more real when we are alone and perhaps also more alive? Or was Heidegger right in seeing Being with Others as an essential element of being human?

The Panel

Historian and broadcaster Kate Williams, philosopher and author of On Being With Others Simon Glendinning and the world record holder explorer Ed Stafford contemplate solitude. In association with The Forum for European Philosophy.

Length: 49 minutes

Item#: BVL115754

ISBN: 978-1-63521-109-2

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.