Viruses and Materialism

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Sandro Parise


There is a physical contagion and a spiritual contagion. Here we do not want to deny the existence of a real problem with the Coronavirus, but rather to understand the current events, and more generally other events whose dynamics are contagious, in light of the science of the spirit.


The origin of viruses

From the biological and physical point of view, the virus is an obligatory parasite, a fragment of genetic material that needs to return to the host cells from which it originated in order to replicate, both at the species and cellular tissue level. However, thanks to the mutation process, a virus can also infect and replicate in other types of similar cells as well as in other species biologically similar to that of origin. The action of a virus is therefore biochemical and aimed at pure replication of itself as much as possible. Being an obligatory parasite, its interest, in a certain sense, is not to kill the host that guarantees its replication, but to spread as much as possible. However, the problem, at least from the point of view of those who are hosts of the virus, is that viruses undergo mutations quickly and in an attempt to adapt to the ever-changing environment of new hosts, it can cause their death. Viruses depend entirely on the life of the cell, they can remain dormant for years and if they are exposed to the weather they quickly break down.

Viruses are always derivative, i.e. they do not originate from themselves, but from other cells: i.e. the parasite comes from the host through a process of simplification and, compared to life, degeneration. Classical biology considers the cell to be the basis of life: starting from this definition, a paradox is created whereby, compared to the complexity of the cell of origin, viruses are such a simplification that, although they originate from cellular life, they are not alive in themselves, since they always need a cell to be able to replicate. Viruses are therefore something that lies between the living and the dead, the organic and the inorganic: this aspect is extremely important and must be taken into account when we want to grasp the phenomenon of viruses from the point of view of spiritual science.


This process goes on until we reach a state of dynamic equilibrium in which the virus spreads continuously without killing the majority of the hosts, reaching a sort of co-evolution between the immune system of the host and the ability of the virus to replicate. This evolutionary model follows the process highlighted by Lynn Margulis that every evolutionary process begins as a competition, a struggle for survival, but eventually it transcends itself and culminates in co-evolution. In essence, each evolutionary process leads the different species to live more and more in close contact, so much so that at the end of the whole process, if extinction does not occur, a real fusion of the species concerned is observed. This is what Margulis has masterfully demonstrated with the process of endosymbiosis of the formation of eukaryotic cells (with nucleus) by a symbiosis of bacterial cells (without nucleus), climbing this process to the symbiosis of entire ecosystems among them in what she proposed as the “Gaia Hypothesis” that foresees the Earth as a living organism in itself. For this reason viruses are not only vectors of diseases but also of certain evolutionary phenomena: it is possible, for example, to observe how many species, whether bacterial, protistic, fungal, plant or animal, have traits in their genome that have been transported horizontally, or through similar species, by means of viruses.


Now, according to the science of the spirit we know that this logic that wants the complexity generated from below must be considered only the manifestation of a complementary process that is generated from above downwards, that is, the fact that the spiritual image of man pre-exists that of the other kingdoms of Nature. So from the spiritual point of view we know that it is the image of man that expels from itself in order to manifest the whole of Creation, animals, plants and minerals and therefore the Earth itself as a living organism.


Bacteria and viruses

It is also good to distinguish, especially in the case of bacteria, the fact that if they can become pathogenic, in the majority of cases they are not and on the contrary they contribute to the so-called “microbiome” or rather to the complex of bacterial ecosystems that populate our body both externally and internally, constituting what is commonly called “bacterial flora” and which constitutes a real vegetal-animal kingdom in man. On the contrary, it is all the more true that the change in the behaviour of bacteria that from being harmless become pathogenic, is determined by an imbalance in the culture medium of the microbiome, that is, by an imbalance of our own organism which is upstream and which therefore translates into an imbalance in the populations of the bacterial species.

The discovery of a bacterium at the moment when the disease arises is certainly an interesting fact as far as the botany and zoology of the human organism is concerned, but as far as being sick in itself has no other meaning than that of a distinctive mark: if one or the other form of disease is the basis of it, there is an opportunity in the human body for these small and interesting animal or vegetable forms to develop such an organic base, but nothing else. One will therefore see nothing else from the presence of these curious creatures, that there is suitable soil, and one will certainly have to pay attention to the observation of the ground. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 312, p. 81f

Steiner points to these processes as the real cause of the onset of the disease: it is not the bacterium or virus itself that indicates the disease but the fact that the ground has allowed its indiscriminate replication without intervention by the immune system which, as we know, is the result of the interaction between the ego, the spiritual principle underlying individual identity, and the etheric body, the body of vital forces. In this context it is interesting to note that the bacterial flora is completely in continuity with our etheric body and is therefore a physical manifestation of it. It is also interesting to keep in mind that bacteria produce nutrients, such as vitamins, but also specific substances that not only keep the populations of bacteria in balance with each other, but also the viruses themselves, which therefore have more difficulty in replicating themselves in the presence of a bacterial flora in balance: this is why if you confuse a viral disease with a bacterial one and administer antibiotics, the result is that the virus will have full scope to expand and aggravate the disease. In essence, bacterial ecosystems protect us from infection. Therefore, we must not confuse the cause (the imbalance in the soil) with the effect (the presence of pathogenic bacteria and viruses):

If bacteria appear in large quantities in any part of the body during the course of an illness, it is natural that these bacteria produce some kind of phenomenon, just like any other foreign body in the body. If you attribute everything to the action of these bacteria, you focus your attention only on what the bacteria do. However, you distract attention from the true origin of the disease. For every time inner organisms find a suitable terrain for their replication in the organism, it is precisely this suitable terrain that has already been prepared by means of the true root causes. – Rudolf Steiner, GA 312, pp. 328f

From an evolutionary point of view, the prokaryotic cells of bacteria are living units in themselves, if they are associated, in the course of evolution they can give rise to nucleus cells, i.e. the eukaryotic cells of protists, plants, fungi, animals and humans. It