Everything must change

Philosophical lessons from lockdown

French philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) famously said that facing our mortality is the only way to properly learn the ‘art of living’. He was right. This book is about what we can learn from COVID-19 about the art of living, as individuals but also collectively as a society: this crisis could potentially change our lives for the better, ushering in a more just society. The book will explore a number of key themes through philosophical lenses. Chapter 2 asks whether coronavirus is a misfortune, or an injustice. Chapter 3 focuses on the largest cohort of victims of coronavirus: people in old age. Chapter 4 asks whether life under coronavirus is comparable to life in the so-called ‘state of nature’. Chapter 5 explores the likely impact of coronavirus on the global phenomenon of populism. Chapter 6 investigates the relationship between post-truth and coronavirus. Chapter 7 focuses on the role of experts during this crisis. Chapter 8 looks at the spike of incidents of domestic violence during the lockdown via an analysis of Sally Rooney’s Normal People. Chapter 9 explores four key lessons that must be learned from the COVID-19 crisis: that politics matters; that central states are necessary; that taxation is important; and that radical reforms, including the introduction of a universal basic income, are crucial. Chapter 10 considers what philosophy can contribute to the debate on COVID-19, and why we have a moral duty not to become ill.

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