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The Politics of Life and Limb

Richard Avramenko

Publication Year: 2011

Courage: The Politics of Life and Limb is a compelling and highly original study of the paradox of courage. Richard Avramenko contends that courage is not simply one virtue among many; rather, it is the primary means for humans to raise themselves out of their individualistic, isolated, and materialistic existence. As such, courage is an absolute and permanent good for collective human life. Specifically, Avramenko argues that when we risk "life and limb" for one another we reveal a fundamental care that binds our community together. Paradoxically, the same courage that brings humans together also drives us apart because courage is traditionally understood as manly, by definition, exclusionary, inegalitarian, and violent.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xiii

This book was twice born in pain. The original concept came to me as I tried to make sense of the September 11, 2001, attacks. On a bus, stuck in traffic on the Key Bridge in Washington, D.C., I watched the first plumes...

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1. (Re)Introducing Courage

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pp. 1-22

Man is nothing other than what he makes of himself, and nothing is more difficult to make than a courageous man. It is for precisely this reason that courage, as a topic of serious political and social debate, is not popular...

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2. Martial Courage and Honor

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pp. 23-81

Any discussion of courage must begin with a discussion of men in battle—with martial courage. From time immemorial, this is when courage comes most vividly to the fore. It is where men prove their manly worth and cowards...

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3. Political Courage and Justice

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pp. 83-138

Thus far courage has been explored in the context of war and battle. This exploration reveals a deep relationship between a warrior’s courage and the love of honor. It also brings to light something deeper: in making himself...

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4. Moral Courage and Autonomy

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pp. 139-189

After the battle at Thermopylae an inscription was left for the fallen: “Go, stranger, and tell the Spartans that we lay here in obedience to their orders.”1 The inscription is both awe-inspiring and revolting. That the Three Hundred...

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5. Economic Courage and Wealth

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pp. 191-234

Thus far we have discussed two general alternatives to the excessive manliness of the Homeric tradition—and of honor cultures more broadly. In the Athenian context we found courage invoked not merely for the sake of honor...

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6. The Aftermath

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pp. 235-255

In the beginning, it was said that man is nothing other than what he makes of himself and that nothing is more difficult to make than a courageous man. We have now marched through nearly two and a half millennia of human beings doing precisely...


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pp. 257-319


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pp. 321-351


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pp. 353-361

E-ISBN-13: 9780268074739
E-ISBN-10: 0268074739
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268020392
Print-ISBN-10: 0268020396

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 794902991
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Courage

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Political ethics.
  • Courage -- Political aspects.
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