Quarantine and Geist

In its essence, public health operates according to the moral conviction and the ethical principle that the well-being of a community is more important than the needs, desires and comfort of an individual. In ontological terms, the interests of Mitdasein prevail over Dasein as an individuated being. Indeed for Dasein to exist, Mitdasein has to be first protected from devastating agents of death such as smallpox and bubonic plague. There are no individuals without community; and there are no communities without humanity. Hence quarantine is about preservation of humanity; its directions and operations have direct impact on the destiny of human civilisation. Reduced to the contingency of the infected body, Dasein‘s Geist faces a severe threat in the form of incapacitation through delirious suffering, with death already lurking around the corner to snuff out the weakened flame of life of the seriously sick without warning. With the darkening of the lumen naturale of the human Geist in a deadly illness such as smallpox, philosophy capitulates. If the afterlife is true, Geist, whether interpreted as mind or spirit, perhaps cannot wait for its final release from the fatally diseased body into an unknown freedom. There is a reason why a lofty philosophical word in the German language such as Geist can also mean “ghost”, which denotes conscious existence after the physical body.

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