A Short Prolegomena to the Philosophy of War, in Four Problems


  • James Dodd New School for Social Research




Carl von Clausewitz, philosophy, war, warfare, violence, peace


Is something like a true "philosophy of war"—understood as a coherent system of ideas, or a clearly articulated theoretical posture adequate to fully addressing the enduring chal-lenges of war on a properly philosophical register—at all possible? What follows is an attempt to outline, in four problems, the parameters of any future critique of a philosophy of war: the problem of categories, the problem of representation, the problem of violence, and finally the problem of peace. It is argued that within each horizon delimited by these four problems philosophy encounters a potential limit, one that raises fundamental doubts regarding the cogency of any philosophy of war considered as a systematic enterprise.


Download data is not yet available.


G. Sorel, Reflections on Violence, ed. J. Jennings, Cambridge 2004.

C. Schmitt, Theory of the Partisan. Intermediate Commentary on the Concept of the Political, trans. G. L. Ulman, Candor, N.Y. 2007.

R. Aron, Clausewitz: Philosopher of War, trans. C. Booker and N. Stone, London, 1983.

C. v. Clausewitz, On War, trans. M. Howard and P. Paret, Princeton 1976.

J. Keegan, The Face of Battle. A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme, New York 1983.

A. Engberg-Pedersen, Empire of Chance. The Napoleonic Wars and the Disorder of Things, Cambridge 2015.

J.-P. Sartre, Critique of Dialectical Reason, Volume One: Theory of Practical Ensembles, trans. A. Sheridan-Smith, London 1991.

M. Foucault, "Society Must Be Defended." Lectures at the Collège de France 1975–76, trans. D. Macey New York 2003.

E. Levinas, Totality and Infinity. An Essay on Exteriority, trans. A. Lingus, The Hague 1979.




How to Cite

Dodd, J. (2021). A Short Prolegomena to the Philosophy of War, in Four Problems. Labyrinth, 23(2), 99–116. https://doi.org/10.25180/lj.v23i2.267



Philosophical Theories of War: Contemporary Challenges and Discussions