Philosopher and War
Keywords:war, survival, eternal peace, morality, Christian Platonism, megalothymia
The article is an attempt to answer the question of what, if any, is the role and responsibility of a philosopher in times of war. In certain circumstances, philosopher, like Socrates, can die “as a philosopher”; but this scarcely covers his death in a battle. Voltaire in his “Candide” provides an opposite suggestion: in a battle Candide “trembles as a philosopher” and does his best to hide and survive. Ironical as it stands, this suggestion is supported by Descartes’ autobiography, where he confesses that he discovered the grounds of his philosophy in a quiet place not far from the battlefront. However, this avoidance of a battle may easily look like philosopher’s moral sin in need of redemption. Could philosopher redeem it by offering a philosophical recipe for attaining and maintaining an “eternal peace”? The article reviews four such recipes, suggested by Hobbes, Kant, Wittgenstein and Levinas, and concludes that all of them fail for this or that reason. Practical failure is also awaiting for those who universally apply the principle of “universal strife for universal good in any conflict”, that follows from basic understanding of Goodness in Christian Platonism. Instead, one should pay more attention to ontological and ethical grounds for “constant readiness to war”, which is quite not the same as “constant bellicosity”. In this respect, is it worthwhile to critically review Fukuyama’s notions of “thymos” and “megalothymia”, and split the “megalothymia” into the two morally different versions of aggressive “epithemegalothymia” and defensive “alexomegalothymia”. The second mode is morally superior and could be cultivated as a “frontier morality” of the “post-historical world” together with its internally dominant ethos of “isothymia”.
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