Philosophy in a time of crisis?


Sir, – Your correspondent Joe Humphreys’s question “Can philosophy help us through this time of crisis?”, in his “Unthinkable” column of March 26th, can be resoundingly answered in the affirmative.

Philosophy is relevant at all times, but particularly so at this period of involuntary confinement for most people.

When cooped up at home, I can ask myself am I living the best sort of life I can, in the sense of Aristotle’s eudaimonia? In terms of metaphysics, how do I really know that other people are having the same reality as me when I am behind my own four walls? When I meet neighbours in the street, how should I act in a moral way towards them in an emergency situation like this, and what is the basis of my morality? Shouldn’t we just accept the greater good of the greater number of people, ie take a utilitarian approach, and keep the economy going, even if that means that some older people are likely to die somewhat sooner than they would ordinarily done? Or how can we possibly take such a cruel approach if we consider that each human life is of equal objective value?

These are just a handful of the fascinating questions that we can seek to answer using philosophy. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 3.