David Bather Woods
University of Warwick
Primary textual evidence confirms that Schopenhauer was aware of the widespread adoption of solitary confinement in the American penitentiary system, and some of its harmful effects. He understands its harmfulness in terms of boredom, a phenomenon which he is known to have given extensive thought and analysis. In this paper I interpret Schopenhauer’s account of boredom and its relation to solitary confinement. I defend Schopenhauer against the objection that cases of confinement only serve to illustrate the general inadequacy of his explanation of boredom in terms of a lack of things to will. This defence arrives at the conclusion that, on the contrary, someone might well suffer from a lack of things to will as a direct result of being confined; and that boredom understood as the deprivation of willing, a phenomenon I suggest may be called conative deprivation, makes an illuminating contribution to our theoretical understanding of the harmfulness of solitary confinement.
Keywords Schopenhauer  boredom  solitary confinement  solitude  cognitive deprivation  loneliness  punishment  prison  imprisonment  penitentiary
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Reprint years 2019
DOI 10.1080/09608788.2018.1527755
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