How plagues change the world: Jerome Roos in the New Statesman

The global crisis unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic is starting to look like a historic inflection point. While we do not know how long the outbreak will last and how severe its fallout will be, it is difficult to shake the feeling that we are now at a threshold between two eras.

If anything, the inherent uncertainty of this moment recalls the original meaning of the ancient Greek word “crisis”. A key term in Hippocratic medicine, krisis referred to the turning point in a disease, indicating either the beginning of recovery or the onset of death. A true crisis, then, is by definition a vitally important moment at which change has to come – for better or for worse.

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