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Document Type

Article

Abstract

This article provides a brief outline of an approach to understanding proactive (or social) heroism in embodied terms, taking this as essential to supporting the idea of ‘the banality of heroism’. I first present an analysis of heroic action in general that shows it as involving self-realization through nonselfsacrificial existential necessity, and then show how in cases of reactive heroic action this necessity is best understood in predispositional embodied terms, such that the agent may be said to quite literally incarnate certain generally accepted norms of the intersubjective ethical context. I then briefly sketch out how this same kind of embodied necessity can be seen in proactive cases, albeit with the difference that here it has to do with realizing the ‘validity surplus’ of that ethical context, that is, with the expansion of the scope of application of its norms. Unlike the norms enacted in reactive cases, this expansion is initially not generally accepted, and in this way proactive heroism is conceptually tied to the idea of immanent social progress. By way of conclusion, I comment very briefly on how this relates to questions concerning the wider cultivation of heroism.

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