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date: 18 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This epilogue proposes a conceptual apparatus to explain the paradoxical fact that, as the chapters in this volume amply demonstrate, terrorism’s shocking acts of violence mean simultaneously to immobilize and mobilize its targets’ intellectual and aesthetic functions. It excavates a strand in the history of philosophy—from Plato to Burke, Arendt, Benjamin, and Rancière—that sees shock not as leading to the paralysis of our capacity to perceive and understand events, but rather as being related to thaumazein (wonder, amazement) and theoria. This philosophical understanding of shock not only grounds the logic of terrorism, especially in its classical incarnation as “propaganda of the deed,” but also exposes the roots of a counterlogic that can activate the kind of knowledge required for the development of a genuinely historical theory of terrorism.

Keywords: Terrorism, shock, aesthetics, thaumazein, theoria, Plato, Walter Benjamin, Edmund Burke, Hannah Arendt, Jacques Rancière

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