The philosophy of war is the area of philosophy devoted to examining issues such as the causes of war, the relationship between war and human nature, and the ethics of war. Certain aspects of the philosophy of war overlap with the philosophy of history, political philosophy, international relations and the philosophy of law.
Perhaps the greatest and most influential work in the philosophy of war is On War by Carl von Clausewitz. It combines observations on strategy with questions about human nature and the purpose of war. Clausewitz especially examines the teleology of war: whether war is a means to an end outside itself or whether it can be an end in itself. He concludes that the latter cannot be so, and that war is "politics by different means"; i.e. that war must not exist only for its own sake. It must serve some purpose for the state.
Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace contains frequent philosophical digressions on the philosophy of war (and broader metaphysical speculations derived from Christianity and from Tolstoy's observations of the Napoleonic Wars). It was influential on later thought about war. Tolstoy's Christian-centered philosophy of war (especially his essays "A Letter to a Hindu" and "The Kingdom of God is Within You") was a direct influence on Gandhi's Hinduism-centered non-violent resistance philosophy.
While Sun Tzu's The Art of War, focusses mostly on weaponry and strategy instead of philosophy, his observations are often broadened into a philosophy applied in situations extending well beyond war itself (see the main Wikipedia article on The Art of War for a discussion of the application of Sun Tzu's philosophy to areas other than war). Parts of Niccolò Machiavelli's masterpiece The Prince (as well as Discourses) and parts of his own work titled The Art of War discuss some philosophical points relating to war, though neither book could be said to be a work in the philosophy of war.
Just war theory is a sect of war philosophy thought to have been founded by St. Augustine. The philosophy of just war theorizes what aspects of war are justifiable according to morally acceptable principles. Just war theory is based upon four core criteria to be followed by those determined to go to war. The four principles are as follows: just authority; just cause; right intention; last resort.
To go to war, one must determine if the intentions of doing so are right according to morality. Right intention criterion requires the determination of whether or not a war response is a measurable way to the conflict being acted upon.
War is a last resort response, meaning that if there is a conflict between disagreeing parties, all solutions must be attempted before resorting to war.
Since the philosophy of war is often treated as a subset of another branch of philosophy (for example, political philosophy or the philosophy of law) it would be difficult to define any clear-cut schools of thought in the same sense that, e.g., Existentialism or Objectivism can be described as distinct movements. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy refers to Carl von Clausewitz is "the only (so-called) philosopher of war", implying that he is the only (major) philosophical writer who develops a philosophical system focusing exclusively on war. However, discernible traditions of thought on war have developed over time, so that some writers have been able to distinguish broad categories (if somewhat loosely).
Anatol Rapoport's introduction to his edition of the J. J. Graham translation of Clausewitz's On War identifies three main teleological traditions in the philosophy of war: the cataclysmic, the eschatological, and the political. (On War, Rapoport's introduction, 13). These are not the only possible teleological philosophies of war, but only three of the most common. As Rapoport says,
To put it metaphorically, in political philosophy war is compared to a game of strategy (like chess); in eschatological philosophy, to a mission or the dénouement of a drama; in cataclysmic philosophy, to a fire or an epidemic.
These do not, of course, exhaust the views of war prevailing at different times and at different places. For example, war has at times been viewed as a pastime or an adventure, as the only proper occupation for a nobleman, as an affair of honor (for example, the days of chivalry), as a ceremony (e.g. among the Aztecs), as an outlet of aggressive instincts or a manifestation of a "death wish", as nature's way of ensuring the survival of the fittest, as an absurdity (e.g. among Eskimos), as a tenacious custom, destined to die out like slavery, and as a crime. (On War, Rapoport's introduction, 17)
Clausewitz views war as a rational instrument of national policy. The three words "rational", "instrument" and "national" are the key concepts of his paradigm. In this view, the decision to wage war "ought" to be rational, in the sense that it ought to be based on estimated costs and gains of war. Next, war "ought" to be instrumental, in the sense that it ought to be waged in order to achieve some goal, never for its own sake; and also in the sense that strategy and tactics ought to be directed towards just one end, namely towards victory. Finally, war "ought" to be national, in the sense that its objective should be to advance the interests of a national state and that the entire effort of the nation ought to be mobilized in the service of the military objective.
Another possible system for categorizing different schools of thought on war can be found in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (see external links, below), based on ethics. The SEP describes three major divisions in the ethics of war: the realist, the pacifist, and the just war Theory. In a nutshell:
Carl Philipp Gottfried (or Gottlieb) von Clausewitz (; 1 June 1780 – 16 November 1831) was a Prussian general and military theorist who stressed the "moral" (meaning, in modern terms, psychological) and political aspects of war. His most notable work, Vom Kriege (On War), was unfinished at his death.
Clausewitz was a realist in many different senses and, while in some respects a romantic, also drew heavily on the rationalist ideas of the European Enlightenment.
Clausewitz's thinking is often described as Hegelian because of his dialectical method; but, although he was probably personally acquainted with Hegel, there remains debate as to whether or not Clausewitz was in fact influenced by him. He stressed the dialectical interaction of diverse factors, noting how unexpected developments unfolding under the "fog of war" (i.e., in the face of incomplete, dubious, and often completely erroneous information and high levels of fear, doubt, and excitement) call for rapid decisions by alert commanders. He saw history as a vital check on erudite abstractions that did not accord with experience. In contrast to the early work of Antoine-Henri Jomini, he argued that war could not be quantified or reduced to mapwork, geometry, and graphs. Clausewitz had many aphorisms, of which the most famous is "War is the continuation of politics by other means."Cham–Vietnamese War (1471)
The Cham-Đại Việt War of 1471 was a military expedition launched by Emperor Lê Thánh Tông of Đại Việt, and is widely regarded as the event that marked the downfall of Champa. The Đại Việt forces attacked and sacked the kingdom's largest city-state, Vijaya, and defeated the Cham army. When the conflict was resolved, Champa was forced to cede territory to Annam, and was no longer a threat to Annamese territory.David Blitz
David Blitz has been a faculty member at Central Connecticut State University since 1989. His areas of teaching and research are the history and philosophy of science, with special interest in theories of evolution and modern logic, as well as the work of Charles Darwin and Bertrand Russell. His book, Emergent Evolution: Qualitative Novelty and the Levels of Reality was published in 1992 by Kluwer Academic Publishers. He is currently working on a monograph on Bertrand Russell's Philosophy of War and Peace. David Blitz is also active in the Honors program and Peace Studies program.Diary of a Housewife
Diary of A Housewife is a (2001) short film directed by Vinod Sukumaran. The screenplay is by Mohan Raghavan. The cinematographer of the film is Santosh Thundiyil, who is one of India's top cinematographers today. The film won the National Film Award for Best First Non-feature Film of a Director in 2002.
This film focuses on the concept of waiting and philosophical crisis of war. Through a young wife, it deals with philosophy of war, and the hopes and expectations related with it.
The film evolves around three female characters; a young lady, and old woman, and a girl.Honoré Bonet
Honoré Bonet (c. 1340 – c. 1410) was a Provençal Benedictine, the prior of Salon near Embrun.
Bonet studied at the University of Avignon where he received a doctorate and traveled around France and Aragon. He wrote on philosophy, law, politics, and heraldry. In his work L'arbre des batailles (c. 1382-87) Bonet deals with war and the laws of war, written in the form of a scholastic dialogue: each chapter starts with a yes/no question, proceeds with a dialogue, and concludes. The book was written to obtain favour of Charles V of France, but without much effect. However, it became a manual for commanders and a lot of European rulers and gentlemen had this book in their libraries as well. In 1456 it was translated to English in the Rosslyn castle for Gilbert de la Haye, Chancellor of Scotland, Earl of Orkney and Caithness.
Bonet was deeply influenced by Bartolo de Sassoferrato and Bonet himself was very influential in the 15th century. The 'Arbre des batailles' was a main source for Christine de Pizan's 'Livre des fais d'armes et de chevalerie' (Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry), and her writing was in turn popularized by William Caxton in England. Jean Courtois, herald of Alfonso V of Aragon, also used Bonet extensively in his 'Blason des Couleurs'.
Martin van Creveld writes that Bonet's subject "was not so much military theory and practice as the art of 'chivalry' and the rules of war." According to van Creveld, such works "are little more than handbooks... Taking the formations and armament of their own day more or less for granted, however, they seldom rise above the specifics of time and place... The fact that some of them were in actual use until 1700 and beyond shows how indebted early modern Europe felt itself to the ancient world—or, conversely, how slow the evolution of warfare was. Unlike the Chinese classics they do not provide a coherent philosophy of war."
Other works by Bonet are L'Apparicion maistre Jehan de Meun and the Somnium super materia scismatis (1394).Interventionism (politics)
Interventionism is a policy of non-defensive (proactive) activity undertaken by a nation-state, or other geo-political jurisdiction of a lesser or greater nature, to manipulate an economy and/or society. The most common applications of the term are for economic interventionism (a state's intervention in its own economy), and foreign interventionism (a state's intervention in the affairs of another nation as part of its foreign policy).Just war theory
Just war theory (Latin: jus bellum justum) is a doctrine, also referred to as a tradition, of military ethics studied by military leaders, theologians, ethicists and policy makers. The purpose of the doctrine is to ensure war is morally justifiable through a series of criteria, all of which must be met for a war to be considered just. The criteria are split into two groups: "right to go to war" (jus ad bellum) and "right conduct in war" (jus in bello). The first concerns the morality of going to war, and the second the moral conduct within war. Recently there have been calls for the inclusion of a third category of just war theory—jus post bellum—dealing with the morality of post-war settlement and reconstruction.
Just war theory postulates that war, while terrible (but less so with the right conduct), is not always the worst option. Important responsibilities, undesirable outcomes, or preventable atrocities may justify war.Opponents of just war theory may be either inclined to a stricter pacifist standard (proposing that there has never been and/or can never be a justifiable basis for war) or toward a more permissive nationalist standard (proposing that a war need only serve a nation's interests to be justifiable). In a large number of cases, philosophers state that individuals need not be of guilty conscience if required to fight. A few ennoble the virtues of the soldier while declaring their apprehensions for war itself. A few, such as Rousseau, argue for insurrection against oppressive rule.
The historical aspect, or the "just war tradition", deals with the historical body of rules or agreements that have applied in various wars across the ages. The just war tradition also considers the writings of various philosophers and lawyers through history, and examines both their philosophical visions of war's ethical limits and whether their thoughts have contributed to the body of conventions that have evolved to guide war and warfare.List of philosophies
Philosophical schools of thought and philosophical movements.Michael Gelven
Michael Gelven, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Northern Illinois University, (1937-2018) was an author and well-known writer of commentary on Heidegger's Being and Time. Gelven had a wide range of specialties including: metaphysics, Heidegger, Kant, Nietzsche, philosophy in literature, and the philosophy of war.Orde Wingate
Orde Charles Wingate & Two Bars (26 February 1903 – 24 March 1944) was a senior British Army officer, known for his creation of the Chindit deep-penetration missions in Japanese-held territory during the Burma Campaign of World War II.
Wingate was an exponent of unconventional military thinking and the value of surprise tactics. Assigned to Mandatory Palestine, he became a supporter of Zionism, and set up a joint British-Jewish counter-insurgency unit. Under the patronage of the area commander Archibald Wavell, Wingate was given increasing latitude to put his ideas into practice during World War II. He created units in Abyssinia and Burma. At a time when Britain was in need of morale-boosting generalship, Wingate attracted British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's attention with a self-reliant aggressive philosophy of war, and was given resources to stage a large-scale operation. The last Chindit campaign may have determined the outcome of the Battle of Kohima, although the offensive into India by the Japanese may have occurred because Wingate's first operation had demonstrated the possibility of moving through the jungle. In practice, both Japanese and British forces suffered severe supply problems and malnutrition.
Wingate was killed in an aircraft accident late in the war. The casualty rate the Chindits suffered, especially from disease, is a continuing controversy. Wingate believed that resistance to infection could be improved by inculcating a tough mental attitude, but medical officers considered his methods unsuited to a tropical environment.Outline of war
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to war:
War – organised and often prolonged armed conflict that is carried out by states and/or non-state actors – is characterised by extreme violence, social disruption, and economic destruction. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities, and therefore is defined as a form of political violence or intervention.Warfare – refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general.Philosophy
Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom") is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. 570 – 495 BCE). Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust (if one can get away with it)? Do humans have free will?Historically, "philosophy" encompassed any body of knowledge. From the time of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to the 19th century, "natural philosophy" encompassed astronomy, medicine, and physics. For example, Newton's 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy later became classified as a book of physics. In the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize and specialize. In the modern era, some investigations that were traditionally part of philosophy became separate academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology, linguistics, and economics.
Other investigations closely related to art, science, politics, or other pursuits remained part of philosophy. For example, is beauty objective or subjective? Are there many scientific methods or just one? Is political utopia a hopeful dream or hopeless fantasy? Major sub-fields of academic philosophy include metaphysics ("concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being"), epistemology (about the "nature and grounds of knowledge [and]...its limits and validity"), ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, logic and philosophy of science.Seth Lazar
Seth Lazar (born 1979) is an Australian philosopher and Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University. He is also Head of the School of Philosophy. Lazar won the Frank Chapman Sharp Prize in 2011 "for the best unpublished monograph on the philosophy of war and peace".
He is known for his research on defensive war.Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu (; Chinese: 孫子; Pinyin transliteration Sunzi) was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, an influential work of military strategy that has affected Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking. His works focus much more on alternatives to battle, such as stratagem, delay, the use of spies and alternatives to war itself, the making and keeping of alliances, the uses of deceit and a willingness to submit, at least temporarily, to more powerful foes. Sun Tzu is revered in Chinese and East Asian culture as a legendary historical and military figure. His birth name was Sun Wu and he was known outside of his family by his courtesy name Changqing. The name Sun Tzu by which he is best known in the Western World is an honorific which means "Master Sun".
Sun Tzu's historicity is uncertain. The Han dynasty historian Sima Qian and other traditional Chinese historians placed him as a minister to King Helü of Wu and dated his lifetime to 544–496 BC. Modern scholars accepting his historicity place the extant text of The Art of War in the later Warring States period based on its style of composition and its descriptions of warfare. Traditional accounts state that the general's descendant Sun Bin wrote a treatise on military tactics, also titled The Art of War. Since Sun Wu and Sun Bin were referred to as Sun Tzu in classical Chinese texts, some historians believed them identical, prior to the rediscovery of Sun Bin's treatise in 1972.
Sun Tzu's work has been praised and employed in East Asian warfare since its composition. During the twentieth century, The Art of War grew in popularity and saw practical use in Western society as well. It continues to influence many competitive endeavors in the world, including culture, politics, business and sports, as well as modern warfare.The Art of War
The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise dating from the Late Spring and Autumn Period (roughly 5th century BC). The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu ("Master Sun", also spelled Sunzi), is composed of 13 chapters. Each one is devoted to an aspect of warfare and how it applies to military strategy and tactics. For almost 1,500 years it was the lead text in an anthology that would be formalised as the Seven Military Classics by Emperor Shenzong of Song in 1080. The Art of War remains the most influential strategy text in East Asian warfare and has influenced both Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy and beyond.
The book contained a detailed explanation and analysis of the Chinese military, from weapons and strategy to rank and discipline. Sun Tzu also stressed the importance of intelligence operatives and espionage to the war effort. Because Sun Tzu has long been considered to be one of history's finest military tacticians and analysts, his teachings and strategies formed the basis of advanced military training for centuries to come.
The book was translated into French and published in 1772 (re-published in 1782) by the French Jesuit Jean Joseph Marie Amiot. A partial translation into English was attempted by British officer Everard Ferguson Calthrop in 1905 under the title The Book of War. The first annotated English translation was completed and published by Lionel Giles in 1910. Military and political leaders such as the Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, Japanese daimyō Takeda Shingen, Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap, and American military general Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. have drawn inspiration from the book.Tupac Shakur
Tupac Amaru Shakur ( TOO-pahk shə-KOOR; born Lesane Parish Crooks, June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper, writer, and actor. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest rappers of all time.Shakur was born in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City but relocated to Los Angeles in 1988. By the time he released his debut album 2Pacalypse Now in 1991, he had become a central figure in West Coast hip hop, introducing social issues in the genre at a time when gangsta rap was dominant in the mainstream. Shakur achieved further critical and commercial success with his follow-up albums Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z... (1993) and Me Against the World (1995). Later that year, after suffering legal troubles and a robbery and shooting, Shakur became heavily involved in the growing East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry.His double-disc album, All Eyez on Me, which was released in 1996, later became one of the best-selling albums in the United States. On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot four times by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas; he died six days later and the gunman was never captured. The Notorious B.I.G., Shakur's friend turned rival, was at first considered a suspect, but was also murdered in another drive-by shooting several months later. Five more albums have been released since his death, all of which have been certified platinum.
Outside music, Shakur also gained considerable success as an actor, with his starring roles as Bishop in Juice (1992), Lucky in Poetic Justice (1993), Ezekiel in Gridlock'd (1997), and Jake in Gang Related (1997), all garnering praise from critics.
Shakur is one of the best-selling music artists of all time having sold over 75 million records worldwide. Much of Shakur's work has been noted for addressing contemporary social issues that plagued inner cities, and he is considered a symbol of resistance and activism against inequality.War
War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general. Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties.
The scholarly study of war is sometimes called polemology ( POL-ə-MOL-ə-jee), from the Greek polemos, meaning "war", and -logy, meaning "the study of".
While some scholars see war as a universal and ancestral aspect of human nature, others argue it is a result of specific socio-cultural or ecological circumstances.War studies
War studies, sometimes called polemology, is the multi-disciplinary study of war. The word derives from Ancient Greek πόλεμος (pólemos, "war") + -logy".
Polemology is distinct from military history in that it encompasses a variety of fields:
Laws of war
Philosophy of war
Ethics of war
Just war theory
Psychology of war
Post traumatic stress disorder
Motivations, conduct and effect of war
Economics of war
Sociology of war
Sociology of the military
International relations theory
The Wuzi (simplified Chinese: 吴子; traditional Chinese: 吳子; pinyin: Wúzǐ) is a classic Chinese work on military strategy attributed to Wu Qi. It is considered one of China's Seven Military Classics.
It is said there were two books on the art of war by Wu Qi, but one was lost, hence leaving the Wuzi as the only existing book carrying Wu Qi's military thoughts. The oldest Wuzi edition that survives dates to the Song Dynasty (960–1279). Because of the lack of surviving copies, there is no consensus among modern scholars concerning the latest date of the Wuzi's final composition, but the core of the work is nominally assumed to have been composed around Wu Qi's lifetime (440–381 BC), in the mid-Warring States period. Historical references indicate that the Wuzi was very famous and popular in both the Warring States period and in the Han dynasty. In addition to strategic/tactical studies and the philosophy of war, the Wuzi pays significant attention to the logistical achievement of war preparedness.
The philosophical content of the work mainly consists of a synthesis between Confucianism and Legalism. The work attempts to resolve a humanistic (Confucian) concern for moral values and benevolent government with an administrative (Legalist) need for strict, predictable rewards and punishments. The attempted synthesis between Confucian and Legalist values is common to other military treatises dated more conclusively to the Warring States period.