Socially Transformative Experiences: The Case of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Socially Transformative Experiences: The Case of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Mr Gah-Kai LeungZoom

Everybody remembers where they were when Princess Diana died or when the planes hit the Twin Towers. These events radically transformed how citizens related to each other, in ways that could not be predicted beforehand. I call these kinds of events 'socially transformative experiences.' This builds on the philosopher L. A. Paul's account of 'transformative experience,' which occurs when a person undergoes an incident that both reshapes the bounds of their knowledge and affects their core values and preferences (such as prgenancy, which might provide one with new information about the complexities of child-rearing and thus lead one to re-evaluate one's work/life balance). Paul is interested in the transformative experiences that alter the course of individual selves, but I extend this notion to encompass experiences that alter the course of *society as a whole* and change the circumstances of our social interactions, for good or ill. This talk applies this idea of a socially transformative experience to the case of the COVID-19 pandemic. Appreciating the socially transformative power of COVID-19 can help us better understand: (i) the scale of the task ahead for post-pandemic policymaking; and (ii) the ethical role of institutions in repairing the social costs of the pandemic.

University of Warwick, UK
Fri 09:30 - 11:00
COVID-19, Mental Health
Standard paper