Practical Disorientation & Transformative Experience as a Framework for Understanding & Exploring the Covid-19 Pandemic's Impact

Henk Jasper van Gils-Schmidt


Covid-19, and the measures taken by governments in response to it, have radically changed our lives. Everything from work, school, socializing to even simple things such as taking a walk outside or shopping groceries is different. As it is too early to make certain predictions about the long-term impact of the pandemic on our social, political, and economic institutions, this paper aims, first, to provide a conceptual framework for making our pandemic-related experiences tangible. It is argued that two central, interconnected aspects can be explicated: our current experiences bring about practical disorientation and epistemic transformation. The second part of this paper is explorative in its nature. A possible moral upshot is explored that appears if we understand our current experiences in light of the developed framework: the disorienting, transformative experiences—by providing us the ability to cognitively model the type of experience defined by living during a severe pandemic—seem to provide a stable basis to develop an empathic understanding of how the pandemic impacts each of us.


Covid-19; Pandemic; Practical Disorientation; Transformative Experience; Empathic Understanding; Empathic Access; Dialogue

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ISSN 2668-0009; ISSN-L 2668-0009