Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Project of Philosophy and Contemporary Society, Advanced Research Center for Human Sciences, Waseda University


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Lockdowns and Life-Value
Covid Response as an Existential Problem

Jeff Noonan

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.11, No.1 (June 2021):155-172




The essay explores the ambiguities of Albert Camus’ maxim that once accept the absurdity of life, then what matters is the most living and not the best. The worldwide lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 crisis form a context which brings to light an ambiguity in the idea of “the most living.” If one reads it as meaning the most experiences for each particular individual, then an existentialist-libertarian critique of lockdowns seems to follow. Since there can be no making up for lost experiential time in a finite life-span, any experiences foregone because of lockdowns are opportunities permanently lost. If, on the other hand, one understands human individuals as members of social wholes who owe their existence and capacity for enjoyment to relationships and institutions, then it might be the case that “the most living” is compatible with temporary lockdowns. Individuals are social beings, and for a social being, the most living must be understood as the most living for everyone.

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