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Vaccines and philosophy

We have been talking a lot about the COVID vaccines and how it helps protect not only us but also those around us as we seek to generate herd immunity with ~70% of the population vaccinated. We have had excellent discussions about the 5 at 5 about vaccines and helpful online information Aside from the science behind it, I think a helpful way to think about actually involves turning to philosophy.

One of my favorites in this category is “I and Thou,” the seminal work by the Jewish philosopher and mystic Martin Buber. You may be post call, having your coffee, EPIC tracking so, to summarize in one sip of your coffee what he is saying: The fundamental value in human existence is communion with others. He says that we find meaning in life through acts of mutual acknowledgment: I’m here, you’re here, and I’m with you.

Buber was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 7 times and for the Nobel Prize in Literature 10 times. He was very influenced by the divergent philosophies of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. He says we encounter one another not just through our words but through the general presence we offer up to each other. Buber notes this plays out in three main areas: relation to nature, to each other, and our relation to spiritual life. It is in our relation to each other that a focus on public health can be appreciated.

Another helpful background in existentialism for those who are interested is 10 Life Lessons From Friedrich Nietzsche (Existentialism) – YouTube and Kierkegaard in 19 Minutes – YouTube. Going down a philosophical rabbit hole can be a welcome change to WebEx.

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