hedgehog’s dilemma

There are many reasons for solitude of your own choice. Intentional reasons include mystic, religious or personal philosophies. Not actively seeking human interaction may also be a result of practical consideration. A good analogy about the challenges of human intimacy is the hedgehog’s dilemma. It describes a situation in which a group of hedgehogs all seek to become close to one another in order to share heat during cold weather. They must remain apart, however, as they cannot avoid hurting one another with their sharp spines. Though they all share the intention of a close reciprocal relationship, that may not occur, for reasons they cannot avoid.

The hedgehog’s dilemma suggests that despite goodwill, human intimacy cannot occur without harm, and what results is cautious behaviour and weak relationships. With the hedgehog’s dilemma, one is recommended to use moderation in affairs with others both because of self-interest, as well as out of consideration for others


Parerga und Paralipomena, Arthur Schopenhauer 1851