The Nietzschean Ladder

Asking the question “compared to what?” helps in putting things into perspective. The year 2020 was bad. Yes, but compared to what? It looks bad only when compared to what one would have expected from the relatively peaceful and prosperous past few years. Humanity has endured a lot more pain and suffering in many wars and pandemics. It’s far from being the worst year ever in human history. I am afraid that the worst effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are yet to come, and when they do, 2020 will not look as bad.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s aphorism “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker” (What does not kill me, makes me stronger) is obviously true of infectious diseases. If an infection does not kill, the organism develops immunity and becomes better at fighting infections. In an analogous way, if a collective is able to survive a shock by developing an appropriate solution, it becomes better than what it was before the shock. Continue reading