In Covid in Australia we are all Kantians: how philosophy can help us through tough times

In Covid in Australia we are all Kantians: How philosophy can help us through tough times

If we were students of philosophy we would turn to the great thinkers of our past like Immanuel Kant to help us through tough times. We would find solace in the conclusion that in Covid in Australia, we are all Kantians.

Bemoaning the loss of philosophy in Australian education

I often bemoan the loss of philosophy departments in Australian universities. I believe we have a rise of conspiracy theorists and poor debating and thinking skills because of it. 

My Philosophy degree was the highlight of my educational life. I loved those professors in their knitted cardigans and bow ties (yes, really), and how they taught me to challenge my beliefs through an analysis of history; the history of science, and paradigm shifts that we now take for granted. I loved learning about different philosophical tenants and pitting the great philosophical thinkers against each other in essays on rationality. I learned how to question in a way my psychology degree never touched upon.

Learning from philosophers past

So I was thrilled to see this piece by Stan Grant on what some of the great thinkers of our time would have thought of Covid. He talked about how we may take solace in the words of Immanuel Kant, (I think therefore I am), who encourages us to consider there should be a rule for everyone and society should come before ourselves. So for Kant “protecting the elderly and vulnerable would come even before our economy”. 

Or the words of Baruch Spinoza: “The free person thinks least of all of the death.” A free person, he said, “is not lead by fear… wisdom is a meditation on life”. And surely, Marcus Aurelius would have had something to say about our pandemic reality, as his stoic philosophy encouraged Romans facing their own devastating plague to accept what you cannot change and that fear itself can be greater than reality.

I think there is some wisdom in these words from the past. What do you think?

This blog was inspired by and includes content in the following article. 

You might be interested in some of the history of science books that inspired me too. See the links below:

The philosophers who might help us through COVID’s dark days of lockdown

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions : 50th Anniversary Edition

A New History of Western Philosophy

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