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Pandemic Armchair Philosophy Blog 04-15-2020

Pandemic Armchair Philosophy Blog 04-15-2020

First, a recap.  The Pandemic Armchair Philosophy Blog was born in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, and is designed to demonstrate philosophy’s practical side in these challenging times. It encourages readers–and not just professional philosophers–to utilize the hard-wired human propensities to think, imagine and create. It’s of the armchair variety because we are urged to stay inside these days, and because philosophizing can be done while sitting down.

I am a professional philosopher who has spent more than three decades in the American academy, nearly all of it introducing “the craft of thinking”[1] to pre-professional college students studying engineering, business and the sciences. I have benefitted as much from their practicality as I hope they have from my heartfelt insistence that philosophy’s craft matters for its own sake, as well as for its everyday applications regardless of occupation.

A viral pandemic shifts our sense of space and time. Hard-wrought plans and journeys that made such good sense just a few months ago are now open to uncertainty. Paths are detoured or blocked for who-knows how-long. What better time to step back and consider alternatives, to review those hidden assumptions about success, happiness and work-life balance, and to do some of the deep thinking that philosophy is famously known and occasionally ridiculed[2] for?

But how quickly have our lives and inboxes filled up! Video calls consume us from morning till night, punctuated by a bombardment of poems, podcasts, grocery-washing advice and funny clips from well-meaning friends and colleagues; not to mention the 24 hour news cycle. We shouldn’t begrudge the craving for social connections in times like these. Neither should we forget the importance of self-reflection. Philosophy helps us to step back and see the questions now lying all around in plain view.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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