Gregg Lambert (Dean’s Professor of Humanities, Syracuse University, USA): ‘Crisis? What Crisis?’ Reflections on the ‘Post-Pandemic Era’
Abstract Crisis,’ from the Greek krisis 'decision', originates etymologically from krinein 'to decide.’ However, the epidemiological meaning of a 'decisive point,’ dating from the early 17th century in Medical Latin, was first used to designate the critical turning point of disease and illness, that is, the “decisive point” of a turn either toward recovery or to the death of the organism. Consequently, the modern usage of the term is already metaphorical when applied to historical, political, and economic events--recalling Nietzsche’s argument that most concepts are merely metaphors whose metaphoricity has been forgotten. As I will suggest in this lecture, which is taken from the preface of my next book and is intended as companion work to The World is Gone: Philosophy in Light of the Pandemic (U Minnesota, 2022), it is perhaps this metaphorical analogy between the historical-political moment of a crisis and the pathological meaning of decision that conceals the true nature of the duration we inhabit, which may have nothing to do with the real nature of historical events or political decision-making today. I will be discussing the concepts of Michel Foucault and the concept of ‘the interior milieu’ (le milieu interieure), or ‘conscience interieure,’ by the 19th century natural scientist and biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829).