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The Ajax DilemmaJustice, Fairness, and Rewards$
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Paul Woodruff

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199768615

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199768615.001.0001

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Bad Losers

Bad Losers

(p.91) Bad Losers
The Ajax Dilemma

Paul Woodruff

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the underlying causes that make a person a bad loser, based on the story of Ajax. One cause is insufficient anger, or anger too late. Ajax is a bad loser not because he snaps in the end, but because he has been losing all along and has not done anything about it. Instead, he has been accepting his losses quietly, so that no one knows his potential for anger. A second cause is ignorance about others. Ajax, as a man of action, despises words and everything related to words, the very things that Odysseus has mastered. Thus, he was unable to understand why Odysseus was rewarded instead of him. A third cause is self-deception. Many losers think they are doing very fine work indeed, and are aggrieved to find that others do not agree. Their self-deception makes them feel that they must have been stabbed in the back by some secret enemy or are victims of prejudice. Other causes include a tender ego, bad managers who set bad examples by refusing to lose, and insensitivity.

Keywords:   bad losers, good losers, Ajax, justice, anger, ignorance, self-deception

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