In this introduction to part 2 of the Common Knowledge symposium “Peace by Other Means,” the journal's editor reflects on the difference between the contributions to parts 1 and 2. Whereas the first installment concentrated on ethnography, the second focuses on the peacemaking repertoire of the Greco-Latin tradition, whose basis is psychological. That tradition is characterized by its refusal of wishful thinking about human nature and, in particular, by its doubt about claims that human drives other than thumos — the rage for self-aggrandizement — motivate the initiators of wars. Given this assumption about motive, the Greco-Latin tradition tends also to regard negotiations based on the rational discussion of material interests as unlikely to succeed. Success requires symbolic and ritual gestures — acts of self-humiliation on the part of those apparently with the greatest power — by which thumos is propitiated and pacified. Most of the introduction considers cases of such settlements, including two contemporary efforts at ritual peacemaking, a successful one by Queen Elizabeth II in Ireland and an unsuccessful one by Pope Francis in the Middle East.
Introduction: Greco-Latin Findings
Common Knowledge (2015) 21 (1): 10-18.
January 01 2015
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