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Covid & the Humanities

What could humanities scholars have to say about Covid? Here Caitjan Gainty, a historian of medicine and healthcare at King’s College London, discusses the Covid response with her colleague Daniel Hadas, a lecturer in Latin and Ancient Greek.

In the Covid response, governments and public health authorities opted to sideline the knowledge and discourse of the humanities, in a single-minded focus on “following the science”. This project of setting aside the humanities was both an illusion and a mistake. An illusion, because science itself is a human activity, and the philosophical and political constraints within which it always operates must be acknowledged. A mistake, because the question of what to do in times of pandemic is not just medical or scientific, but raises that fundamental concern of the humanities, and of all humankind: how we can best live and die. Accordingly, this conversation considers how philosophical and spiritual analysis can help us understand more clearly the forms taken by the Covid response, and point to how a better response, one more in accord with the fullness of human dignity, could be possible in future health crises.

Watch Daniel and Caitjan discuss the historical context of the Covid response here.

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