The Courage to Exist: A Philosophy of Life and Death in the Age of Coronavirus was published in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The book suggests that the pandemic has lain bare the limitations of modern socio-political institutions as well as those of modern technology and science in protecting the lives and securing the well-being of human beings. It has punctured the idea of infinite happiness founded on material progress, but more importantly, the pandemic has debased dying into an inglorious affair. Confronted with this tragedy, human beings are at a critical moment for reflecting on the past, the present and the future.
Ramin Jahanbegloo sees this moment of the pandemic as the kairos—the decisive moment to recreate the meaning of living and dying and an opportunity to excel at this art. The art of living and dying entails the affirmation of individual autonomy. It encompasses resistance as well—resisting despair, resisting the power of large corporations and resisting the violence of the state. It also entails forging global solidarity founded on the ideals of universal citizenship and compassion.
Organized into six unnumbered segments, this slim book covers an expansive philosophical terrain by addressing the challenges to the ontology of the human condition.
The first section titled ‘Living’ ruminates over the malaise of our modern times, the loss of meaning in human lives, and the disinterest in learning how to live one’s life. Jahanbegloo argues that modern civilization has stripped human life of meaning. Unlike other living beings in the natural world, humans have lost faith in life. Consequently, we have also lost the art of living. Thus, we live through largely ‘unlived lives’.
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