Philosophy Today

Volume 64, Issue 4, Fall 2020

Philosophy in a Time of Pandemic

Wolfgang Heuer
Pages 851-857

Cosmos, Worlds and Republics
Notes on the Occasion of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Viruses and pandemics are part of an overarching ecological theme that encompasses not only climate and plants, but all forms and conditions of life. This requires a far-reaching change in perspective. Not only does biodiversity, following Alexander von Humboldt, form a common “cosmos” across the globe, but we humans are also part of it. This natural sphere corresponds to Arendt’s concept of the “world” on the social and political sphere. Cosmos and world take the place of the old irreconcilable separation of nature/barbarism and culture/civilization. Consequently, the threat to cosmos and world does not come from nature but from man-made devastation. Biodiversity and human plurality can only thrive with the principles of environmental/political sustainability.