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notions of dignity - Ilya Shlyakhter (notestaff) - letters to editors
July 18th, 2005
06:16 am


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notions of dignity

(12 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:July 28th, 2006 02:27 am (UTC)

emailed reply #1

From: "Oren Ziv" (odz2101ATcolumbiaDOTedu)
Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005 3:03 PM
Subject: NY Times
In response to your letter in the Times today, I might comment that
a fair share of the loot was not what dignity was in the Iliad;
rather the story hinged upon Achilles' relinquishing of material
pleasure for dignity. Hannah Arendt speaks to this more complex
Greek notion of dignity.
This isn't simply a trivial point, but, really, a lot has changed
since then. The material and the moral were not so divided. Today,
increasingly, dignity seems to come into contradiction with the
Perhaps, if you look at it this way, terrorism is an attempt to
bridge the two. In any case, the screwed up workings of the
ideology of terror are far more complicated than a man like
Friedman will/can acknowledge; it serves us little to underestimate
our enemy. If you are interested, some stuff has been written on
Arendt and terrorism, not that I necessarily subscribe to it.
Oren Ziv
Date:July 28th, 2006 02:28 am (UTC)

Re: emailed reply #1

it's true, share of loot was just proxy for "proper
recognition of his contribution", and it's that
recognition that meant a lot -- not the material
goods. still, it struck me how they're taking it as
self-evident that conquest is the highest calling;
sure, what do you expect of warriors, but the greeks
chose to subscribe to the warriors' values by making
this particular tale central. and it just seems that
today, there should be so many more avenues for
self-expression, and yet so many people still take it
as an axiom that finding an enemy and dominating them
is the highest calling.

how is terrorism "an attempt to bridge the two"?
Date:July 28th, 2006 02:29 am (UTC)

Re: emailed reply #1

From: Oren Ziv

forgive me for my tardy reply. I was waiting on a friend to remind
me of a book he once referred me to.

Faisal Devji is writing on the Muslim suicide bombers, he is at the
New School. Have you heard of Hannah Arendt (not to condescend, but
your website implied that you had a mostly mathematical background)?
I believe he applies, rightly or wrongly, her critique of the modern
condition (the human condition) to that situation. Something along
the lines of the metaphysics of terrorism.

here's a link to his book, i believe:


Although I wouldn't suppose you have time for a lengthy back and
forth over such matters, Arednt's language is useful for defining
the modern world - her work, I believe, is the last or latest in
the great dialog of political theory which emerged from plato's


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