This chapter analyzes how the movement of the self to self-transcendence has been articulated in different ways in the history of philosophy. In his phenomenology of the sacrificial aspect of political violence, Paul Kahn observes that the double aspect of sacrifice—self and other—continues to this day. The chapter considers the potential relationship between self-sacrifice and violence in war by briefly analyzing the laws of war. In addition, it studies how origin narratives of states and political or religious communities sometimes refer to heroic sacrifices performed by the founding generation. A past sacrifice can become a binding political constraint on present-day politicians. With the burden of an earlier sacrifice, the issue is not about withdrawing from a losing situation and maximizing utility but is instead a concern about retroactive desecration.
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