Loneliness as Self-Improvement: Ibn Tufail’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
Keywords:Cartesianism, Defoe, Ibn Tufail, individuality, otherness, religion, Robinson, solitude, truth
There are several kinds of loneliness: assumed, forcible, imposed, morbid, or “collective”. Loneliness may be creative, or empty; there is even loneliness with nothing at stake, as there is meaningful loneliness, and vulgar loneliness. All seem to share something – the ordeal of being with oneself, the fear that one will not be able to bear it in the end. In Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, loneliness becomes the protagonist’s tutor, he lives with loneliness and survives. In The History of Hayy Ibn Yaqzán, the Andalusian novelist and philosopher Abu Bakr Ibn Tufail shows how reason can develop independently of the influence exerted by society. The two writers introduce two types of Robinsons, such as the medieval Hayy ibn Yaqzán, in the philosophical novel of the 11th century, the self-taught philosopher of the Grenadian Ibn Tufayl and the modern European Robinson Crusoe, as Daniel Defoe shows him in his renowned 18th century novel. The two protagonists present two completely different attitudes to society, the world, thought and God: attitudes that, being characteristic of the historical moment of each one, mark, at the same time, two dimensions of the human being.
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