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Between War and PoliticsInternational Relations and the Thought of Hannah Arendt$
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Patricia Owens

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299362

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299362.001.0001

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Who Is Revealed in War? History, War, and Storytelling

Who Is Revealed in War? History, War, and Storytelling

Chapter:
(p.33) 3 Who Is Revealed in War? History, War, and Storytelling
Source:
Between War and Politics
Author(s):

Patricia Owens (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299362.003.0003

This chapter addresses Arendt's method of thinking about politics and war. It was a fundamental conviction that the most significant changes in social and political life could not be understood through the projection of continuous historical laws. It was the nature of both politics and war to bring about the unexpected. Inspired, in part, by the tradition of historiography that emerged out of the realist writing of Homer and Thucydides, Arendt argued that it was essential to divorce the meaning of events from our ethical judgement of them. We should and do make ethical judgements. The difference is that we must also pay attention to the distinctly political criteria for judging action, which Arendt believed to be greatness. This understanding of the history of war and forms of agency in wartime is illustrated with the case of suicide bombing. ‘Who’, if anyone, is revealed in such acts?

Keywords:   Arendt, methodology, Greek warfare, Homer, Thucydides, Who-ness, immortality, realism, suicide bombing

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