Nietzsche, the Anthropocene, and COVID-19

Social Ethics Society Journal of Applied Philosophy 2 (Special issue):104-125 (2020)
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I draw affinities between Nietzsche’s criticisms of modernity and the Anthropocene, showing how this COVID-19 pandemic reflects our failure to dream radically but also our potentiality for a greater tomorrow. The Anthropocene represents society’s unprecedented progress at the cost of a rift between nature and civilization guided by utopias. This meant, in greater terms, society's value for economics while sacrificing ecology. Though a viral pathology, this pandemic exposed societal pathologies ignored for a long time: defects in healthcare, city planning, and sustainable living. Our herd-like response to this crisis stems from a deep-seated homelessness caused by the Anthropocene. Life ought to be altered and Nietzsche’s Eternal Return challenges us: If this is to return, what are our values? This paper is threefold: I first present the Anthropocene and draw affinities with Nietzsche’s critique of modernity. I then proceed by giving several examples of how the pandemic challenges societal values. Lastly, Nietzsche’s challenge of the Eternal Return is a test to our own values to life after the pandemic.

Author's Profile

Anton Heinrich Rennesland
University of Santo Tomas


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