- About project
- Results and Awards
- Affiliate Programs
- International services
PHILOSOPHY OF WAR
(Analysis of the meaning of war done from the point of view of the concept of biner)
Egorov Anatoly Grigorevich, candidate of philosophical sciences, senior lecturer
Petersburg State Transport University
The given article contains brief ontological analysis of war, - which is a well-known social and historical phenomenon. Peculiarity of this work is connected with the fact that the given research into war was conducted from the point of view of the conception of biner developed by the author since 2005. The major reasons which cause wars and their consequences are also considered in this article.
Kew words: war, biner, analysis.
Alongside with other important and essential issues, earlier or later every person has to comprehend his/her attitude to such an inevitable aspect of human existence as war. If it is not done in time and at the necessary level, it means that in the world outlook and thus in the whole life of the given person there will gape a huge breach which will lead to additional mistakes, sufferings, failures and inability to understand the events which take place in reality. An educated and thinking person needs both to develop both his personal attitude to the given war (as if he were to become its contemporary or even participant) and reach the stage of understanding the role and meaning of war in the history of mankind. That person who aspires to the philosophical level of comprehending those things which take place around him/her should develop his/her own essential and comprehensive understanding of the idea of war. However, realization of this understanding can be done from the point of view of different notions and on the base of different ways of comprehension. The given article contains brief analysis of the major aspects of war which was done from the point of view of the basic notions of the conception of biner developed by the author [See 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].
According to the data presented by some scientists, including L. Brassel and M. Brassel, almost four billion people have died during the wars throughout the whole recorded history of mankind; moreover, more than three hundred wars have taken place on the Earth during last five hundred years. The whole historical human experience shows that war is a constant and inevitable state of society and one of the phenomena of human history.
As we know, even ancient Greek philosophers, in particular Heraclitus and Plato, noted the universal nature of war. For example, Heraclitus wrote: “War is the father and tsar of everything, it made some human beings Gods and some human beings – people, it made some people slaves and other people free”. At the same time, in this connection Plato said the following: “Everybody is in war against everybody both in social and personal life, and everybody [is in war] with himself/herself” . Different states are in war with other states, their constituent parts are in struggle with each other; within individual settlements there is conducted the war between local homes and families; within families and homes their members are in war against each other; and, at last, every person wages war against himself/herself, although everybody does it in different ways and with different consequences. So it is clear that in this context the word “war” means not only martial actions but all kinds of struggle against each other which people resort to (as well as their intensive interaction). The notion of struggle is more universal and general compared to the notion of war .
T. Gobbs noted the universal nature of war as well when he stated that everybody wages war against everybody. J. Lock regarded war as a natural state. The well-known Indian thinker of the twentieth century Sri Aurobindo described the general nature of war in this way: “War is a universal principle determining not only material aspects of human life but also the mental and moral existence of every person” [11, 136]. Life on the Earth is a constant war, or, better to say, struggle at all the levels of being, including its material, psychological, intellectual and spiritual levels.
What is the phenomenon of war from the philosophical point of view? War is the manifestation of negativity and contradictoriness of being. Negativity and contradictoriness are the consequences of duality, or binarity of being. The world can not be definite and concrete without duality. At the same time, duality invariably leads to the collision of different aspects of being with each other. In the narrow sense war is a collision, or intensive interaction between complex biosocial systems which are complex binary formations. War is an outward manifestation of the clash between oppositions, the result of violating the balance between oppositions when between them a strong inharmonious interaction, or imbalance between the poles of a biner begins to take place on the base of their unity. In other words, war is a manifestation of the unity of the deteriorating something with something else, although for its existence war requires its own, special unity. As a result, between the poles of imbalanced biners there starts a hard, powerful, irrational and inharmonious interaction which involves in its maelstrom everything that is connected with the given biners.
War is an inevitable consequence of the enmity, or negativity which has been accumulated by people. Although initially war is a form of manifesting disharmony between the poles of a biner, nevertheless war itself is a way of removing the excessive tension which emerges between the poles of this biner (or the system of biners), or a means of leading the poles of a biner to new harmony at a higher or lower level of hierarchy in a quick and intensive way. From this point of view it is possible to regard war as a manifestation of some social disease and a way of treating it at the same time. Although after such intensive treatment “patients” may sometimes die.
In the most cruel and irreconcilable war there is preserved close interconnection between enemies. This interconnection is the basis of the possibility of starting and the continuation of the war. War is a way of active and mutual changing each other and adapting societies, states and other social formations for each other.
Wars are an outward manifestation of struggle which takes place in the consciousness of mankind, peoples and countries of the world [12,7]. Large-scale wars are a form of expressing collisions of great epochs giving way to each other. For example, the First and Second World Wars are a landmark of the end of one historical epoch and the beginning of a new one (some historians consider that as a matter of fact both world wars were one and the same war, just with a small pause between its two stages).
War is not just a manifestation of the contradictoriness of human life. War itself is a very intricate system of contradictions. Let us consider some of them in brief. On the one hand, war is a manifestation of the imperfection and baseness of human nature as it implies an organized mass murder of other people aimed at getting material or some other goods in such an unfair way. As P. Prudon and N. A. Berdyaev noted earlier, here we speak about the traces of the zoological stage of human development when such qualities as cruelty, revengefulness, blood-thirstiness, violence, robbery and desire for might manifest themselves. In this case war should be regarded as an expression of madness, irrationality and absurdness, or animal instincts of human beings.
However, on the other hand, war is a means of finding a way out from humbling commonness and being above the trite and vulgar way of living. Such lofty features of human nature as the desire for heroic deeds, courage, fortitude, sacrifice, fidelity and neglecting one’s personal safety show themselves during a war. As G. Hegel wrote, war is a manifestation of moral substance and its absolute freedom from any available being [3,255]. War provides every person for the opportunity to feel the force of negativity when property and even human life lose their previous meaning and become just an element of the ruthless course of the world history. War is a moment when high-mindedness of the special gets its right and becomes reality (G. Hegel). From this point of view war is not a catastrophe, but, on the contrary, war is the highest manifestation of human spirit.
At first it may seem that any war starts because of some definite and obvious causes and reasons. Martial actions are based on purely rational principles. That is in its essence war has a clear rational component. Nevertheless, war is a transition to the unknown, a jump into uncertainty, a crash of all the rational landmarks and criteria. War is the most obvious manifestation of human madness; many people regard it just as a pure accident. Once Marcus Annaeus Lucanus noted that during a war laws keep silence. War is a biner of the rational and irrational . The thesis of this biner is irrational. It is the irrational which transmits its impulses into the rational and feeds it with energy. In its turn the rational gives shape to the irrational, makes it definite and comprehensible to some extent.
War is the most intensive manifestation of evil (that is contradictoriness of the world), but, on the one hand, war is a powerful means of the struggle against evil. Indisputably, war is evil, but it is not the absolute evil. War is also a manifestation of kindness. In other words, war is a biner of kindness and evil.
On the one hand, war seems to be a kind of infringement on justice, one of the most unfair things on the Earth. However, on the other hand, with the help of war it is possible to restore the justice which has been violated as well as to create another type and level of the interaction between the poles of the contradictions of society or to form new kinds of unity.
War is a break-through of non-being into being, addition of non-being to being, emergence of the irrational on the surface. War is a mechanism of restoring the balance between our, immanent world and the transcendental world, – or the “world of the dead”. War is a manifestation of the connection, or interaction with another world which calls and attracts people from this world.
Any war implies the possibility of peace, – that is its own opposite. Any war is organized for achieving peace (as a matter of fact, both peace as a state opposite to war and peace as something new and different from the previous state of peace). Peace is the preparation for a war and the expectation of its beginning. Peace is a pause between wars. War is the most active state of the world.
The binary and contradictory nature of war finds expression in the fact that in every given war there are at least two meanings. These are its real meaning and that meaning which are implied by the immediate participants of a war [1,177]. The immediate participants of a war create the whole gamut or cacophony of the meanings of the given war; however, because of different reasons they are not able to comprehend its true meaning. It is possible to assume that till nowadays nobody has managed to understand the real meaning of the Second World War and its constituent part – the Great Patriotic War.
War is a form of manifesting the active and energetic element of the world, – that is of the male element. War is a way of realizing human purposes by means of force and maximal display of energy and will. Here we deal with the collision of the male and female principles of being. The female principle creates, makes, preserves and keeps. The male principle aspires to destroy and change suddenly those things which have already been created and which are available at present. Therefore war is an unexpected predominance of the antithesis over the thesis in the biner “the male–the female”.
As we know, subconsciously antithesis aspires to destroy the results of the work of thesis and thus of itself. Unlike its opposite – piece – war is not all-sufficient; in a sense it parasitizes on peace, although it is possible only due to peace. However, without war peace can not become better or different either. That is why Belonna (the Roman goddess of war) will not be ever able to rule the world undividedly; nevertheless, without her the world will come to a standstill and die.
So we can see that war does not just have such intricate and contradictory nature but is included in some more intricate systems of contradictions. By now we have already briefly touched upon the biner (that is the contradiction “peace – war”. In another projection of the metaphysical and intelligible space this biner will become the biner “creativity–destruction”. War is a destructive element of being, and peace is its constructive element. Nevertheless, during wars many people reveal their creative potential. Without wars there will not be the renovation of the word and its development. However, without peace nothing is possible at all, including wars.
In a bit different sphere the biner “peace – war” is projected into a simpler biner “pacifism – militarism”. Both poles of this biner faintly perceive real tendencies of a higher and more intricate biner whose reflected projection it is. Pacifism is superficial and naively rationalistic. As N. A. Berdyaev writes in one of his works, pacifism does not want to know spiritual terms of the cessation of wars [1,178]. However, militarism lacks the proper level of verity as well. Militarism does not realize its actual bases, does not understand the consequences which it leads to as well as its real role in human history.
So war is a manifestation of the active and energetic male aspect of being. War is a powerful energetic impulse which leaves the given society out consciously or unconsciously to throw off the excess energy which is able to destroy the given society from inside. If because of some reasons society is not able to spend accumulated energy in a peaceful way, it turns into the state of outward or inward aggression.
As M. Veller considers, a war begins at that moment when the level of accumulated energy exceeds the level of forces supporting the available balance. That is it starts at that time when in society there are no forces which are able to control accumulated might. A war begins at that moment when the level of available energy exceeds the level of creative possibilities of the given society. In other words, it starts when people do not know or can not use manpower wisely.
From the point of view of the conception of biner war is a form of throwing away superfluous energy out of the given system of biners which is not able to keep this energy within itself or can not balance and distribute it harmoniously between its poles and constituent elements.
It is possible to point out different causes of wars. Which of them will be dominant and decisive will depend on the type of world view, philosophical bases and principles which a person comprehending the problems of war adheres to as well as on the volume and quality of human knowledge about concrete wars on the base of which the reasons of these wars will be determined. Besides, determination of the reasons of war will depend on the level of thinking of the given researcher too.
Ideally, probably, it is possible to bring all causes together in a kind of harmonious unity or to achieve a very high degree of universality in understanding the major causes of war. However, each of us can notice and comprehend only some definite aspect of the given (and any other) issue both vertically and horizontally. Therefore only in continuous cognitive interaction with each other we will be able to broaden the horizons of our understanding, to become the complement of one another and thus to get a more developed and true point of view. One-sided centering in the pole of some biner and persistent defense of only one’s own attitude become obstacles on the way of real and concrete cognition.
Special attention should be paid to the discussion about war presented by the great Russian philosopher N. A. Berdyaev who considered that war can prevail in the world of objectification estranged into objects and articles. War will take place in its different forms all the time till that very moment when spiritual and speculative unity appears in the world.
Plato distinguished the material reason for all the wars of mankind quite clearly and precisely. In his opinion, this reason is human body. “You see, all wars are organized for the sake of grubbing riches; at the same time, it is our body which makes us grub riches and which we serve slavishly” [10,24-25]. However, our mind and our spirit should control our body and not to let it spread its longings around it too much and unwisely. Besides, not only our body is the reason for wars.
Nevertheless, of all human constituent parts it is body which is the most objectified human component. It does not bear any active encroachment on its borders and is always ready to infringe on other bodies for its own survival. Feeding bodies is a continuous war with other bodies, a war aimed at utter destruction; it is the assimilation of these bodies. The struggle for food in its more intricate forms leads to a real war. Therefore materialism managed to catch a true aspect of the reasons for wars – that is the economic one. Even those scholars who repudiate materialism as a primitive world view consider that dishonest economic competition, commercial barriers and high rates cause wars quite often.
However, the material reason of wars lies on the surface and is quite obvious, although it can be quite diverse and intricate. Under this surface (or above it?) there is a wide range of the reasons characterized by some other properties.
The struggle for self-preservation (and it does not come only to material things) is a more important reason for all wars. The irrational realization of their uniqueness incites every people of the world and every individual human being to the struggle for self-preservation. So if nothing else counterbalances it, this struggle will be held till the death of every person participating in it, or till the moment of utter destruction or enslavement of another people.
If the given people and person admit only their own uniqueness and do not know or do not acknowledge the uniqueness of other peoples and human beings, the beginning of a war is absolutely inevitable. One-sided acknowledgement of one’s uniqueness leads to the fact that all other people are perceived as enemies. Appearance of an enemy begins with creating its image. Creating the image of an enemy, being unaware of the unity with other peoples and human beings is the first step to starting a war. When there are no enemies, there is no war (Laozi). Therefore, if you want to have a war, you need to search for enemies and create them (at first only in your imagination). On the contrary, if you do not want to have a war, you should search for the images of enemies in your consciousness and then gradually transfigure and convert them into the images of your brothers-in-arms and friends.
An enemy is everybody who is not equal to you from this or that point of view, who infringes (or it seems to us that he infringes) on equality and violates justice. Therefore it is no mere chance that some thinkers considered money to be the major cause of wars. Marcus Fabius Quintilianus believed that to abolish money means to abolish wars. Indeed, it is possible to assume that if there is no money, then there will be no criterion for measuring injustice and inequality. Hence there will not be any reason for overcoming them. However, it is rather superficial point of view on the essence of the issue of war. Injustice and inequality are expressed and measured not only with money.
The most important cause of wars is the aspiration of peoples and human beings to justice. At the same time, justice is a way of perceiving and finding truth. Not to go into detail when comparing truth and verity it is possible to claim that the cause of all the wars is the aspiration of people to verity, their aspiration to find truth. However, as the profundity of understanding truth and verity is different for different peoples and for different human beings, then there emerge the abundance of concrete reasons leading to this or that war and different ways of understanding them. Inability to synthesize different levels of understanding verity and thus understanding justice leads to realizing one’s uniqueness and one’s rightness. It seems to many people that their own freedom is restricted, that their rights are limited, that all other people are wrong, – and, as enemies are absolutely wrong, it is necessary to put them in their place. A people or a human being who is developed from the spiritual point of view not well enough wants to be beyond equality, wants to have power over others. As a result, there appears noxious rivalry and lack of confidence in each other. At the same time, the lack of confidence emerges at that moment when both parties pursue their vile but on the whole similar interests.
Superficial and ludicrous (although at first also inevitable) manifestations of the aspiration to freedom, verity and justice are ambition, love of power and pride. As a rule, these aspirations which are rather spiritual though still quite garbled are hidden behind the references to the necessity of assaulting others as a preventive measure against the aggression which is being prepared, getting economic goods which are unfairly possessed by another people (N. O. Lossky).
Aspiration to fame is even more spiritual cause of wars. Aspiration to fame is a manifestation of the aspiration of peoples and human beings to immortality, or the aspiration to remain in the memory and spirit of others. In this case material reasons and causes are absolutely in the background, they play just a subsidiary role here. However, it is possible to obtain fame not only with the help of wars.
The state of war appears at that moment when the illegal force begins to manifest itself more and more actively, when violence becomes the main means of solving social problems. When the practice of violence exceeds some certain level the given human being or people are ready to undertake martial actions; they are not afraid of death and sufferings any more; besides, they respond to violence with even more violence. In this case there takes place the outburst of the excess energy which a people or a human being could not direct to the creative groove. Every people, – that is the citizens it consists of, – are ready to undertake maximal actions. These are the actions which lead to extermination of those whom they consider to be their enemies. It is possible to restrain this irrational outbreak of excess energy with the help of a well-developed system of values of the given human being and people. If these are high-level values, they may harmonize uncontrollable energies, direct them to achieving constructive purposes and find such justice, truth and verity which will direct peoples to the harmonized and wise interaction with each other.
On the contrary, weakening the system of values leads to increasing the probability of starting the international or civil war (P. Sorokin – [2,93]). Values are a means of holding the aspiration to eliminate these or those inequalities in check. With the help of values society can be brought to the state of some certain concord.
It was mentioned above that one of the basic causes of wars is the fact that our world is the world of objectification, the world of estranged objects and processes which are in constant mutual struggle for self-preservation and obtaining some better conditions of their unique and sole being. It may seem that in the world which is characterized by having more developed and speculative unity there should not be any wars at all. If it is really so (for those who are able to perceive the speculative and spiritual), the statement of G. Hegel saying that speculative essence of any state is the bases of inevitable wars will still seem to be paradoxical. A real war is impossible without state. In this case only spontaneous skirmishes between some concrete people or groups would be possible. It is a state due to which wars can become a general and systematic phenomenon. Without army any state is not a state. The existence of an army is an objective manifestation of the willingness of the given people to wage a war (here it does not matter at all for the sake of which purposes, – that is for protection or for assault).
In any case, I proceed from the fact that the major and decisive cause of all the wars is the lack of the necessary level of the wisdom of a people and the citizens it consists of. For understanding this principle it would be necessary to develop the content of the notion of wisdom which is really intricate and complicated. It is not reasonable to do it within this work. Now it is only possible to say that wisdom is a form of manifesting and realizing the inner harmony of all the stages of the world. Those human beings who are not aware of this harmony and who are not able to realize and keep this harmony will inevitably involve themselves in the state of war both against themselves and other people. Besides, they will be in this state till the moment when they achieve maximum and perfect wisdom. And now war is an inevitable human fate, which such outstanding thinkers as Heraclitus, Plato and many other thinkers realized long ago.
It may seem that the consequences of wars (especially for the peoples-losers) are exclusively negative. Many active and strong people are exterminated, enormous resources are spent, considerable and diverse sufferings are experienced and the settled forms of life typical of many generations begin to change much. However, it is really so only outwardly, from the superficial point of view. Very often peoples become stronger due to wars even when they lose them. An important meaning of war consists in the fact that due to wars “there are preserved the moral health of peoples and their indifference to the solidification of final certainties” (G. Hegel). War shows human beings and peoples that those things which seemed to them to be the most precious and valuable in reality are just accidental and finite. During a war and after it new depths of comprehending the sense of their being are revealed by some concrete people and human beings; besides, there takes place the redistribution of energy within the given society; moreover, stable structures begin to change and alter. In this way the transfer to a new stage of human history takes place. Due to the wars against other countries different peoples of the world become calmer and better-balanced. That energy which is able to destroy a people from inside is directed outside, it shakes other peoples up and purifies the given one.
Historians and economists are familiar with the fact of “economic miracle” in the countries which lost in the Second World War from all possible points of view, – that is in Germany and Japan. However, after the war those countries developed very dynamically and in various spheres. At the same time, as a result of the war, the countries-winners also got a noticeable impulse to their further development. Any war is a tragedy leading to an economic and sometimes spiritual upswing.
It is also a well-known fact that war and preparation for waging new wars are the strongest factor of scientific and technological development. Without the militaristic component science and technologies would develop very slowly. M. Veller (a talented writer who popularized the whole range of philosophical ideas quite well) assumes that during wars there perish, first of all, more courageous, aggressive, energetic and mentally ordinary people. At the same time, in M. Veller’s opinion, mainly more cowardly, selfish, ingenious and weaker people survive at the war. To some extent this principle seems to be quite logical. However, it is possible to adduce some opposite propositions which have their grounds as well. It is difficult to substantiate both the first and the second principles with the help of concrete sociological and statistic data, but it is obvious that in any war we can observe a kind of natural selection. So if in general mankind develops, this kind of selection should be positive (in combination with inevitable negative features).
One’s attitude to war and comprehending its meaning strongly depend also on the way of understanding such phenomena as death, life, immortality and peace. Besides, the quality of grasping the idea of war and its real essence depends on the way of understanding the destination of human beings in this world as well as on the way of comprehending what this world exists for.
1. Бердяев Н.А. О назначении человека. М., 1993.
2. Гарин И. Что такое философия? Запад и Восток; Что такое истина? М., 2001.
3. Гегель Г. Феноменология духа //Сочинения. Т. IV. М., 1959.
4. Егоров А.Г. Борьба как один из видов взаимодействия полюсов бинера //Личность. Культура. Общество. Международный журнал социальных и гуманитарных наук. Том XI. Вып. 1. №№ 46-47. М., 2009, с. 316-322.
5. Егоров А.Г. История познания бинарного архетипа. //Казанская наука. 8.2011, с. 132-136.
6. Егоров А.Г. 31. О первоначальных проявлениях бинарного архетипа. //Дискуссия теоретиков и практиков. № 3-4 (5) 2011, с. 12-16.
7. Егоров А.Г. Соотношение рационального и иррационального в философии Владимира Шмакова //Философия XX века: школы и концепции. Материалы научной конференции 23-25 ноября 2000 года. СПб., 2000, с. 412-414.
8. Egorov A.G. Ontology of biner //XIV International Scientific and Practical Conference «Actual problems and modern trends in psychology and pedagogy». 24-28 November 2011. http://icp-ua.com/ru/node/1356
9. Платон. Законы, I, 626 c.
10. Платон. Федон //Платон. Сочинения в трех томах. Т. 2. М.,1970.
11. Сатпрем. Шри Ауробиндо, или путешествие сознания. Л., 1989.
12. Шмаков В. Священная книга Тота. Великие Арканы Таро. Киев. 1993.