Pandemics: The Blind Spot of Reason

After a brief review of the work of the Society for the Phenomenology of Religious Experience, this concise presentation will introduce one of our operating concepts, which is the idea of connection between religious experience, logic, and reasoning. I begin with establishing an empirical distinction between an interpretation of experience as religious experience, and the forms of religious experience which include originary self-giving intuitions. These types of intuitions ground ontological validities, i.e., metaphysical assumptions about the nature of reality (cf. Flood, The Truth Within, 2013; Louchakova-Schwartz, “Alienic Spiritualities,” 2020 forthcoming). At the same time, it has been established that many forms of logic are essentially grounded in metaphysics (see e.g. Zalta, Logic and Metaphysics, 2005; Rush, The Metaphysics of Logic, 2014; cf. Kripke’s “semantic worlds”). Husserl (cf. Lotze) believed that intensional contents of acts of consciousness have a close connection with the concept of ontological validity. The first observations of the metaphysical vector in logic and predication go back to Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics and Metaphysics (see e.g., Cobb-Stevens, “Aristotelian Themes”, 2002; Lewis, “Predication”, 2011; Sokolowski, “Aristotole and Husserl,” 2012). In recent studies, many argue that thr realistic metaphysics at the roots of logic must not be limited to the metaphysics of observable objects, but include non-observable objects (e.g., in physics), absences, abstract objects, or non-objects and relationships (see e.g., Sellars,”The Lever”, 1981; Zalta, Intensional Logic, 1988; Merlo, “Logic of grounding”, 2020, etc.). Insofar as the structure of thinking corresponds to the structure of the world, the forceful bracketing out of metaphysical intuitions of any kind, and in particular, of a religious kind, ends up in creating ruptures in our picture of the world, and consequently, in reasoning, and even in logic per se.

Of course, this rather lengthy set of assumptions is semi-hypothetical; each step in the argument requires detailed proofs. However, we can adopt it as a working hypothesis, and with this in mind, take a look at the situation of pandemics. I will present data showing that even though pandemics are the main factor shaping societies and histories, medicine and science pay them remarkably little attention. No attention has been given to the ways plagues relate to the consciousness of afflicted societies (Huremović, “Pandemics,” 2019). In the current COVID19 pandemics, the rate of the death toll per current year (1 mln.) is astoundingly the same as that of the medieval “black death” plague; there is no adequate or full information about the spread of the virus (, and the countries with the highest scientific output (US, India, China, from do not have control over the spread (“bend the curve” criterion). In this situation, it appears correct to suggest that we are facing a crisis of reason which the current pandemics only brings to visibility.

In history, societies deal with rapidly spreading pandemics at first with great interest, horror, and panic, and then, as soon as infection begins to subside, with lack of interest, untill the new wave of extinctions is knocking at the door. At present, we are repeating these vicious cycles. In light of Husserl’s early genetic analysis of sciences (Prolegomena, 1913, Ch. 2), one can see that a) our collective reason has failed to come up with what appears to be a logically necessary maxim, that is, a normative proposition which would assert that humanity should not be a subject to massive fatality events due to emergent infectious agents, and b) we discern no ontological region of sciences which would be concerned with the endurance of life per se. As a result, our practical sciences are inefficient, and eidetic and regional (scientific) ontologies are insufficient. The situation with pandemics only highlights how unreasonable we are regarding our own life. We deal with pandemics as a synthetic event, a subject of partisan and nuclear responses—and our analytic, fragmented metaphysics is here foundationally flawed. By contrast, reason rooted in the metaphysical unity of life (available in religious experiencing) may give us a clue to dealing with emergent existential threats.