The core quality of the philosopher (etymologically meaning lover (philia) of wisdom (Sophia)) is that they want to understand the truth and not the illusions that are cast on the cave wall by shadows (see Plato’ allegory of the cave).
In this regard the philosopher cultivates a particular habit of mind, a particular discipline, and even a particular form of asceticism. Plato writes, “the philosopher is not to be confounded with the connoisseur, nor knowledge with opinion. The philosopher is that person who has in their mind the perfect pattern of justice, beauty, truth; theirs' is the knowledge of the eternal; they contemplate all time and all existence”
Asceticism is necessary to promote virtue – another necessary pre-condition. And these are rare qualities.
In the present crisis, the West has largely turned governance over to health authorities. Health authorities have particular expertise and their counsel is absolutely necessary to guide public policy. But there are many other factors, the ruler must consider – these include the economy, and the impact to the common good as well as individual human rights. And the ruler must also have the critical means by which to evaluate that information provided to them.
Classically, and scientifically, this is achieved by way of thesis and then an anti-thesis and finally a synthesis. The problem today is that with panic spreading about the virus, our collective cortisol levels are surging, leaving us compromised when it comes to political judgements. The resulting impulse is a tendency to eschew dissenting views through censoring online content. The issue of free speech versus compelled speech is an important human rights issue that can be discussed in later posts.
As a citizen, I have a duty to listen to and respect my local and national civil and health authorities in the judgments they make. And I do just that by practicing all the recommendations made; that is part of my duty in the social compact.
However, as a citizen and a member of a democracy, I can, at the same time, make my own views known regarding appropriate response. Public health responses, like any other public responses are the responsibility of elected officials. While, health authorities have particular expertise in how best to address pandemics, we should also be listening to other informed health and infectious disease voices who suggest other SAFE public responses that do not have the same economic and cultural impact as the current responses are having.
In that spirit, I offer the following rejoinders to the current scientific and political thinking by other well informed scientific and political thinkers.
MIT biologist says fear mongering on coronavirus will go down as biggest fraud to manipulate economies.
Dr. Shiva graduated from MIT in 1986 with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. After selling his company he went to the MIT Media Lab and got a master’s degree in animation, focusing on how to present scientific data visually. He also holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from MIT. In 2004, Ayyadurai returned to MIT to work on a Ph.D. in systems biology, a relatively new field that integrates biology, engineering and computer science.
And this from Sweden:
The Science Behind Sweden's 'Relaxed' Coronavirus Strategy
I have no control in the decision-making process. And as a citizen, all that I can do is make these views known in my small corner of this planet to the small number of people who may actually read my blog.