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Outrageous FortuneGloomy Reflections on Luck and Life$
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William Ian Miller

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197530689

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197530689.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 January 2022



(p.39) 3 Competition
Outrageous Fortune

William Ian Miller

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the unavoidability of competition, even among those who renounce the more common forms of competitions for honor, wealth, and so forth. It starts with a discussion of the Garden of Eden and conditions of zero scarcity therein, with but one scarce item: the forbidden fruit. Then the chapter goes on to positional goods, rank-ordering people, which leads to a discussion of seating arrangements, musical chairs, and the failure of King Arthur to resolve the matter with a round table. It then provides a treatment of Christian attempts to avoid honor competitions by elevating humility to the status of one of the chief virtues. But that ends in humility contests and we are back to square one. The chapter ends with a sublime text from Gregory of Tours about a truly humble miracle-working young monk and the efforts to keep him humble despite his miracle-working powers.

Keywords:   positional goods, musical chairs, Gregory of Tours, Benjamin Franklin, humility, humility as virtue, Garden of Eden, Thersites, St. Antony, St. Guthlac

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