PJCV 6/1 - Clausewitz as a Practical Philosopher

Philosophical Journal of Conflict and Violence

ISSN 2559-9798

Editor-in-Chief: Andreas Wilmes 

Guest Editor: Andreas Herberg-Rothe 

Vol.  VI (Issue 1/2022)

Pages 1-127

DOI: 10.22618/TP.PJCV.20226.1

 You can read this issue in open access


DOSSIER: Clausewitz as a Practical Philosopher


By Andreas Herberg-Rothe

Philosophy and Methodology in Clausewitz’s Work

Andreas Herberg-Rothe

Abstract: In Clausewitz’s own view his work is akin to a philosophical structure of the art of war. This philosophical structure is most visible in his elaborations concerning the relation between theory and praxis— elaborations which make his work a treatise of practical philosophy. According to him, theory has to: (1) reveal the nature or essence of war; (2) reflect the difference between theory and practice; (3) provide recommendations for military action in war; (4) educate and cultivate the mind of the political and military leaders as well as that of the army; (5) follow the footsteps of Kantian critique. Last but not least, this article also offers an account of Clausewitz’s novel position regarding the dialectical thinking of its time.

Clausewitz’s “Strange Trinity” and the Dysfunctionality of War

Terence M. Holmes

Abstract: By contrast with the Holy Trinity, Clausewitz’s “strange trinity” is an unstable system, whose three “dominant tendencies” compete for mastery over the realm of war. One tendency is the subordination of war to the aims of policy, but that is constantly challenged by the other two—blind hatred and the enjoyment of adventure. The political tendency is the only one that treats war as the function of a purpose beyond war, but only intermittently does that tendency predominate, meaning that war is more often than not a dysfunctional undertaking and always a highly dubious instrument of policy.

The Thoughts of Clausewitz on Society and State in Times of European Upheaval

Andrée Türpe

Abstract: My article focuses on Clausewitz’s actual statements regarding the political changes of his time. It highlights his understanding of the notions of ‘revolution,’ ‘reform,’ ‘monarchy,’ ‘republic’ and ‘nation state.’ Using a concrete historical analysis, I aim to show that the Prussian philosopher of war is best characterized as a supporter of reforms, monarchy and as a representative of national patriotism. In a nutshell, Clausewitz was a supporter of reform in order to prevent revolution or suppress revolutionary inclinations.

Emotions in War: The Emotionality-Rationality Equation in Clausewitz’s Theory of War

Bilgehan Emeklier, Nihal Emeklier

Abstract: Clausewitz introduced an inclusive equation between emotionality and rationality with regards to the debates on the causality and practice of war in modern strategic thought. In Clausewitz’s theory of war, war is a process of governmentality composed by three types of actors: states directing war (leaders and decision-makers), armies executing war (combatants), and people supporting war financially and morally (societies). In this trinitarian scheme, war is a continuous, mutually constitutive interactional process with emotional and rational components both between conflicting parties, and within each side. The aim of this article is to discuss how Clausewitz integrated the emotion-reason equation in his theory of war, to explain through an actor-level analysis how emotions affect, change, and transform war, and lastly to discuss the mutual constitutive relationship between wars and emotions in the contemporary global durable disorder.

Reversing Clausewitz: A History of a Mistake

Guilel Treiber

Abstract: This paper traces the result of the reversal of the Clausewitzian dictum that war is the continuation of politics in post-structuralist political theorizing. I argue that much can be gained by not reversing the dictum (hence, making the reversal a mistake) and retaining the conceptual relation between politics and war Clausewitz espouses. I then show what a neo-Clausewitzian position would contribute to the debate on the relation between war or violence and politics by arguing that, in the case of Clausewitz, it is better to be a Kantian than a Nietzschean.

Clausewitz, Schmitt and the Relationship Between War and Politics in the Interwar Period and Today

Maciej Witkowski 

Abstract: Carl von Clausewitz distinguished two fundamental aspects of war — political and existential. These aspects are present in the philosophy of Carl Schmitt too. He used Clausewitz to build a theory of Man and his political nature that also aimed at understanding the German defeat in World War I. In this article, I interpret Schmitt's philosophy as an instance of a modern re-appropriation of Clausewitz's legacy. I aim to show that even though Schmitt’s philosophy might be outdated, his way of reading Clausewitz may be inspiring today. There is a need for a ‘new Schmitt’ who would be able to create a system that would integrate Clausewitz’s intuitions into a modern paradigm.

Accounting for Alliances in Clausewitz’s Theory of War

Olivia A. Garard 

Abstract: Allies and alliances are deeply embedded in Clausewitz’s theory of war. Allies are a live and reactive means that may shift throughout a war. Alliances, often responsive to the balance of power, harness allies as a dynamic means. Both problematize Clausewitz’s initial, dual conception of war; they embody uncertainty and inject Politik. To account for allies and alliances entails reevaluating three fundamental Clausewitzian premises: that the defense is the stronger form of war; that the status quo has inertia; and that war has duration. Ultimately, any comprehensive view of Clausewitz’s theory of war demands the inclusion of allies and alliances. 

- VARIA - 

#MeToo, #BalanceTonPorc, the Feminist Rape-Revenge Film in the 2010s and Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge

Kate Ince 

Abstract: This article brings together essays on revenge by philosophers Simone de Beauvoir and Emmanuel Levinas with the rape-revenge film genre through a detailed reading of French director Coralie Fargeat’s first feature film Revenge (2017). It also links the film’s presentation of rape and violence to the #MeToo movement and how it played out in France under the #BalanceTonPorc hashtag and suggests that the leading protagonist of Revenge Jen (Mathilda Lutz) may be considered as an example of the twenty-first century version of horror’s “Final Girl” first theorized by Carol Clover in the 1980s. 

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