Philip Koch, author of Solitude: A Philosophical Encounter, defines solitude simply as “a time in which experience is disengaged from other people.” This is an exact but accommodating definition because one cannot constrict solitude to a method that pertains only to one’s own beliefs or ends. Where for some solitude is a time for spiritual work, to another it may simply be creative work, or to another an emotional time-out, even a prescribed respite for a type-A personality. At a minimum, however, solitude is for all a physical sense of space and time and a sense of freedom or relief from interaction with others.
But perhaps the core of Koch’s definition is disengagement, for disengagement brings a new flexibiity to the experience of solitude. Disengagement not only allows for solitude in the midst of the crowd but even within the daily life-style and vocation, thus being available as a specific experience or resource that can be pursued when needed, as needed, or even at will. Furthermore, disengagement allows solitude to range from physical isolation to psychological self-perception, wherein the mind can recognize and act upon its own perceptions, intuitions, and insights.
The metaphor of engaging with the world is rightly turned on its head as disengaging from unreality and falsehood, of turning inward to what is our true source of being.