Editor’s introduction

Editor’s introduction

Arien Mack

SHORTLY AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, SUSAN SONTAG WAS TAKEN TO task for arguing in the pages of The New Yorker that the 9/11 hijackers were not cowards since they were willing to die for a cause they believed in. A reader of the magazine wrote to remind her of Aristotle’s argument in the Nicomachean Ethics that a courageous person is one who faces fearful things as he ought and as reason directs “for the sake of what is noble.”

It seemed that the time was ripe for new reflections on what it means to be courageous, hence this special issue of Social Research. Though our starting point was September 11, and our initial considerations included Palestinian suicide bombers and World II kamikaze pilots, the issue quickly expanded to include a host of questions about the nature, forms, and expressions of courage.

Papers in the issue examine the idea of courage as a civic virtue, the classical understanding of courage as a virtue, and the need for courage in a democracy. Two papers, those by Fatos Lubonja and Jirina Siklova, look at the demand for courage in repressive societies, and what happens when those societies change and courage is no longer the order of the day. Other essays discuss the nature of moral, physical, and intellectual courage, and the psychological and physiological bases of courage and fearlessness.

At a time when terrorist threats are everywhere, it behooves us to consider once again what it means to be courageous.

I AM SURE YOU WILL HAVE NOTICED OUR NEW LOOK. THOUGH OUR design has changed, our content and mission have not. We hope you like the new design and will continue to turn to Social Research for rigorous and engaging work, on issues both timely and timeless, by leading scholars and writers.


In vol. 70, no. 2 (Summer 2003), Anwar Shaikh’s paper, “Who Pays for the ‘Welfare’ in the Welfare State? A Multicountry Study,” contained an error. The author notes that the data labels in figure 1 on p. 531 are reversed: “Labor Taxes” should read “Labor Benefits,” and vice versa. The associated text is correct.

COPYRIGHT 2004 New School for Social Research

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group