On the Epistemic Condition of Pandemic in a Globalized Present
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The current pandemic provoked by the Coronavirus that emerged first in the city of Wuhan in China has elicited a wide range of philosophical speculations, especially when the virus started to hit the hinterland of the Western world (first Europe and then the USA). Among those reflections are some of the best known thinkers of our times. French philosopher Alain Badiou wrote a reflection “On the Epidemic Situation” on Verso Book Blog in late March, for example, where he constructed a reductive dualism between the Cartesian pure/clean reason and the Chinese irrational (“irrepressible” in his own word)/dirty archaic habit of animal consumption, which resonated strongly with racist bigotry that we have seen since the beginning of the epidemic outbreak, against people of (east) Asian heritage. This essay departs from a critique of Badiou’s text in order to show the underlying epistemic racism/eurocentrism interweaving the author’s personal experience with the “wet market” and an analysis of the economic condition of the globalized present. Facing an ever more complex world entangled in deep trouble caused by the pandemic, the essay argues against any epistemic reductionism and simplistic solutions.