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Strangers by Choice

An Asocial Philosophy of Life.- Translated by Tul'si Bhambry and Agnieszka Waśkiewicz. Editorial work by Tul'si Bhambry.

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Andrzej Waskiewicz

Strangers by Choice explores voluntary otherness as a philosophy of life. This philosophy is asocial in the sense that its followers tend to privilege separateness over belonging, and yet it does not lead to alienation or isolation from society. Building on Simmel’s notion of the stranger, the author sheds light on the experience of spiritual idealists, both real and fictional, who maintain a distance from mainstream society in order to live by the laws of their transcendental homelands. Waśkiewicz addresses representations of strangeness from a broad spectrum of Western culture, including Stoic philosophy, Augustine of Hippo, Henry David Thoreau, the physicist Richard Feynman, and finally Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Highlighting how these writers and thinkers have negotiated individuality and community, this interdisciplinary study contributes to debates on identity in both practical philosophy and the history of ideas.
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Closing Remarks. Masters without Servants; or: Aristocrats on the Margins of Social Life

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Closing Remarks

Masters without Servants; or: Aristocrats on the Margins of Social Life

Strangers by choice among other strangers

Notions of strangeness pervade our contemporary world. Some would call strangeness a postmodernist fixture, and indeed the concept appears in a wide range of publications, from academic journals to tabloids with dubious motives co znaczy ten pytajnik. Most often we hear that strangers are barred from authentic life, or that they suffer from being excluded or marginalized by mainstream culture; another commonplace is that they are upset by the distance between themselves and other strangers. The problem of strangeness is supposed to be resolved by dialogue and institutions of social inclusion. If these function adequately, today’s stranger will sooner or later become ‘one of us’; otherwise strangers will be condemned to remain in stigmatized cultural ghettos. In the light of these preconceptions it seems absurd that anyone should choose to be a stranger. And yet, this book is about strangers who do not perceived their strangeness as a problem, as they have no desire to belong to the mainstream of society.

As far as their social condition is concerned, the protagonists of this book comes close to what Georg Simmel outlines in his essay ‘The Stranger’. Although Simmel had in mind people of a specific social category, his essay points out certain features that life on the margins of a community brings out more than life either within or outside the community. The...

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