by alison assiter
Feminist Dissent collective and UWE Philosophy, Bristol. Her book Re-thinking Human Rights in the Light of New Materialism, will be out in 2021, with Rowman and Littlefield International
In the unprecedented circumstances of the present pandemic, governments across the world have been forced to take extreme steps in their attempts to contain the virus. Even before the lockdown in the UK, to quote one source: "The government can also prohibit or restrict events and gatherings and close premises if public health requires this. The focus of these powers will be the owner or occupier of the premises or anyone involved in holding such an event rather than the individuals attending. Failure to comply will be an offence".
by phoebe lily page
In these times, the systems that structure our lives have changed – or disappeared. The ways we move through our environments have changed. We leave a wide berth for those we meet in the street, and we welcome our friends and colleagues into our living spaces, albeit through the lens of a camera. How we inhabit our bodies, perhaps no longer adorned in stylish clothes, has altered as we shift into different ways of being in our homes, and in ourselves. The social circles we maintain, the way we work and study, the way we experience joy and anxiety, all have changed. Perhaps not all in ways that we desire, and some perhaps bring a new sense of comfort and delight.
by george sargent-childs
"Constantly reflect on all the things which happen now have happened before: reflect too that they will happen again in the future. Have in your mind’s eye whole dramas with similar settings, all that you know of from your own experience or earlier history."
I don’t know about you, but everywhere I go I keep on hearing the phrase, “these are unprecedented times we’re living in” in regards to the current Covid-19 crisis affecting the world. For most people, with most of our planet in lockdown, yes, these are uncertain times of which a majority of us would never have previously imagined and therefore the effects have taken us by surprise. However, I don’t believe the Ancient Greek and Roman Stoics would’ve been so surprised. In fact, my favourite Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius faced a 15-year-long pandemic during his reign as Emperor of Rome, alongside wars, political disputes and the day-to-day happenings of being a ruler of the largest empire on earth at the time. Marcus, according to many sources, remained calm and collective throughout. He didn’t let fear consume him, he carried on. The instincts of the stoics may feel hard for us to understand in this current climate, but luckily we have a copy of his private diary – the “Meditations” – to give us insight into his Stoic mindset. Previous to the Coronavirus outbreak, I had been following the Stoic routine of Marcus Aurelius, and I feel these spiritual excursuses could serve useful to a fearful society in times such as this.
by dagmar wilhelm
Episode 1: “Chaos is a ladder.”
*Trigger Warning: mention of violence (including sexual violence)
G. R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (GoT) is a versatile source for philosophical reflection on the current pandemic. Literature and art generally can interact with philosophy in many different ways. In this blog I will draw on GoT to highlight certain aspects that might be less transparent in the real world.
BY ALISON ASSITER
In the unprecedented circumstances of the present pandemic, many groups of people have been hailed as heroes. Those who work in hospitals and care homes, the transport workers, those delivering the post, and shop workers are amongst those whose work has rightly been celebrated. On our university campus, that of UWE Bristol, one of the Nightingale Hospitals has been set up with unprecedented speed.
Many of us who normally work elsewhere, who may be furloughed or made redundant, have been looking for opportunities to ‘help’, by delivering food to those who may not have enough to eat, by phoning someone who is completely isolated, or even by applying to pick fruit and vegetables. All of these activities are vitally important. Others of us, though, may be paralysed by anxiety or fear. Some resort to washing their hands constantly, maybe others slump in front of the TV or carry a large bottle of bleach around with them everywhere in their own small flat. Some simply feel a constant sense of unease.
You may not see how philosophy could be of any relevance or use at the present time. I would like, in this blog, to explain one way in which philosophy can be helpful.
UK Philosophy and COvid-19
Do you want to know how philosophy is relevant to COVID-19? The British Philosophical Association is collecting resources on this topic. For further information, have a look at their website.
Philosophy and the pandemic: reading suggestions!