War as Paradox: Clausewitz and Hegel on Fighting Doctrines and Ethics

War as Paradox: Clausewitz and Hegel on Fighting Doctrines and Ethics

by Youri Cormier


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War as Paradox: Clausewitz and Hegel on Fighting Doctrines and Ethics by Youri Cormier

Two centuries after Carl von Clausewitz wrote On War, it lines the shelves of military colleges around the world and even showed up in an Al Qaeda hideout. Though it has shaped much of the common parlance on the subject, On War is perceived by many as a “metaphysical fog,” widely known but hardly read. In War as Paradox, Youri Cormier lifts the fog on this iconic work by explaining its philosophical underpinnings. Building up a genealogy of dialectical war theory and integrating Hegel with Clausewitz as a co-founders of the method, Cormier uncovers a common logic that shaped the fighting doctrines and ethics of modern war. He explains how Hegel and Clausewitz converged on method, but nonetheless arrived at opposite ethics and military doctrines. Ultimately, Cormier seeks out the limits to dialectical war theory and explores the greater paradoxes the method reveals: can so-called “rational” theories of war hold up under the pressures of irrational propositions, such as lone-wolf attacks, the circular logic of a “war to end all wars,” or the apparent folly of mutually assured destruction? Since the Second World War, commentators have described war as obsolete. War as Paradox argues that dialectical war theory may be the key to understanding why, despite this, it continues.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780773547698
Publisher: McGill-Queens University Press
Publication date: 11/22/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,253,597
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 16.50(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Note xv

Introduction 3

1 How to Approach Claims That Hegel and Clausewitz Generate Self-Fulfilling Prophecies and War Mongering 27

2 Perfection and Certainty in Metaphysics and War Theory 47

3 Clausewitz's Scepticism: The First Dialectical Moment 75

4 The Decay and Resilience of Positive Doctrines from Jomini to the Twentieth Century 99

5 Real and Absolute War: The Second Dialectical Moment 115

6 Transitioning from Kantianism to Hegelian ism 134

7 The Unresolved Ethical Impasse in Dialectical War Theory 141

8 Framing War as a Right: The "Actualization" of Freedom 149

9 Clausewitz and Hegel: Where the Convergence on Method Begins 183

10 Clausewitz and Hegel: The Convergence Peaks in On War's Book I, Chapter 1, as the Divergence on Ethics Sharpens 203

11 Fighting Doctrines and Revolutionary Ethics 233

Epilogue 261

Bibliography 301

Index 313

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