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!