JSCOPE 2000 Conference – Paper:


The Dialectical Dimension of the Moral Military Decision Making-
an Idealistic Approach


by Christian M. STADLER, Austria/EU[1]




1. Preface

In this paper I shall try to elaborate the dialectical dimension of the moral decision making in the military sphere. My point of departure is the philosophy of the German Idealism, that is the philosophy of Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. Moreover, central ideas of the political thinking of Plato and, of course, Clausewitz will be invoked for my systematic proposal about the metaphysical dimension of the military decision making process.

Proceeding from the Clausewitzen analysis of the nature of „Military Genius“, „Military Virtue of the Army“ and „Folk-Spirit of the Army“, I should like to establish that military success is a question of „Moral Force“. The follow analysis however is only the theoretical core of a more extensive argument, which will take us one step back into the metaphysical and one step forward into the practical sphere.

As to the metaphysical dimension, we will have to inquire into what lies behind military and civil virtues and their relevance for successful action. For that purpose, I will resort to some principles of transcendental-idealistic thought. According to Hegel, the essence of reality is reason (Vernunft). Reality as Fichte in his Ethical Idealism has it, is nothing but the material for the fulfilment of our obligations. Duties on the other hand are the way reason appears in and determines history, our human reality. Therefore, in fulfilling his duty, man is in normative harmony with reality, for it is under that condition that man takes part in the structure of reason (methexis). In this vein Fichte characerises doing what one ought to do as equivalent to touching eternity.

As to the practical dimension Kant made clear, that to make a serious effort to realize our moral motivation, for otherwise we wouldn’t possess good will, but only good wishes, whose moral power is irrelevant. Moral behavior demands not only the moral intention, but also the serious effort to realize one’s good intentions. However, nobody is obliged to succeed, because one is not the master of fate. Nevertheless, one must have untertaken every coercive effort to succeed. This rule is valid both for the micro-moral and for the macro-moral level of decision making and acting.

The intrinsic conception of my argument lies in integrating these „moments“ into a concise system of the dialectical aspects of the moral military decision-making.

The precondition of a moral war (e.g. an Humanitarian Military Intervention) is not only the moral intention of the political decision, but also the adequate effort to fulfill that humanitarian duty. Therefore warfare, is a problem of political morality. Taking the point of view of the latter, effective and adequate warfare is a conduct of war, which is led by a military genius who commands military virtuous and public–spirited troops. The precondition of both a military genius and a military virtuous and public-spirited army is the rationality of decisions taken on all levels from the grand strategy „down“ to the battlefield. Even in this micro-moral level the moral decision’s realisation has to be taken seriously, otherwise could not be called a moral act. It is therefore decisive for the, say, morality[2] of a Humanitarian Intervention, that every decision even in the micro-moral level has been taken in a moral way – that is, taken with the intent of making a serious effort to stop violation of human rights.

In order to arrive at this result, the teachings of Clausewitz should be „moralised“ in the light of the metaphysical aspects of the Ethical Idealists of German Classical Philosophy, a tradition, which was principally not alien to Clausewitz, who nevertheless developed only the instrumental – and therefore more Machiavellian - aspect of the problem of „moral force“ in the military.


2. Remarks on the dialectical method in transcendental philosophy

Carl von Clausewitz‘ fundamental importance in the Philosophy of War is owing to the fact that he emphasised the problematic relationship between the theory and practice of war. This gap between theory and practice is as old as Modernity. The upshot of Descartes‘ metaphysical revolution is the fundamental difference between res cogitans and res extensa. In a certain way, theory / res cogitans has been impossible to be bridged with practice / res extensa until today. But besides that, why should this gap be bridged at all? One consequence of this logically frozen gap is the development of functionalistic political theories, which fail in acknowledging man as value of his own resp. as an end in himself. Without this recognition, however, how can something like „morality“ take place? For that purpose one has to rediscover a philosophical tradition which offers ways of relating these two spheres of being. As Werner Hahlweg[3] points out, Clausewitz‘ particular metaphysical approach towards the thinking of war was therefore an „idealistic“ or „dialectical“ one. What has to be understood by this expression in the field of Military Philosophy?

The central problem - as mentioned above - of both „civilian“ and „military“ thinking lies in the necessity of bridging between theory and practice. Especially in the military field, as Hahlweg stresses, Clausewitz found dramatical gaps between the theoretical concept of warfare and its practical requirements.[4] But how can such a necessary, as Wiliam James would have it, „mediation“ (Vermittlung) take place? Contrary to Jameson pragmatic tinkering, for transcendental thinkers uniting both theory and practice requires to identify what they have originally in common: the emanating Unity of Spirit. The method of discovering what they have in common, is the dialectical one. This method has its origins in Plato and Plotin and reappeared in the works of Fichte and Hegel. Only with the help of the dialectical method can one realise the substantial correlation between individual moral acts and the universality of Spirit  But how does this work? According to dialectics, each single aspect of reality can be seen not only in its actual meaning, but also in its spiritual or transcendental dimension. How can this spiritual meaning be uncovered? The method for showing this transcendental dimension of being is „dialectical deduction“. From the natural immediacy of being, the dialectical way of arguing leads to the estrangement of this immediacy and onto the particularity of matter (which has therefore to be overcome, if we do not wish to remain on that transitional level). The „resolution“ of this estrangement lies in the absolute Unity of Spirit, which allows one to think something as concrete, for example, and therefore to overcome the gap between res extensa and res cogitans.[5] This normative dependence of all actual being on the Unity of Spirit is the central aspect of idealistic thinking, which can only be realized in a dialectical way.

The heart of the dialectical method is a holistic approach in the name of the Unity of Spirit. Accordingly, all aspects of reality are taken to be manifestations of the Absolute, the Spirit. As Schelling points out, reality is essentially a representation of the Spirit, be its conscious (as in the human) or its unconscious (as in nature) appearance. Understanding reality presupposes the awareness of its spiritual essence. This holds true also for moral decision-making. Therefore moral behavior or moral principles are not only a question of righteousness, but also a precondition for successful action. German Idealists try to show this on the basis of a transcendental deduction.

Each of these steps consists of three Hegelian dimensions: the abstract one (an sich), the estranged one (für sich) and the concrete one (an und für sich). Reality consists of all three moments in emanating Unity. These three moments may in a way be compared with the Platonic dialectical triad of Epithymetikon (sustenance-aspect), Thymoeides (virtue-aspect) and Logistikon (reason-aspect). Justice is therefore for Plato the harmony between these three aspects, just as substantial reality is for Hegel (who has a more Aristotelian than Platonic approach[6] in his dialectical concept). I shall try to unite both the Hegelian and the Platonic transcendental concepts by naming the notions common to both in each step: Physis in the first step – Ethos in the second – Logos in the third, that means: 1. Physical laws of nature as an organic system – 2. Social laws of a community as an organic whole – 3. Absolute Spirit as the organic principle of being.[7]

As stated above, Clausewitz too has a dialectical approach to human action. For him, war is not only a chance international crisis, but a consequence of human interaction (more comparable to trade than to art[8]): in any case, the essential purpose of war is the enforcement of one’s own political will. Therefore the decision for war is part of the political/practical sphere, which is inseparable from the strategic/theoretical sphere (how to wage war) and the tactical/metaphysical sphere of the concrete[9]. According, Clausewitz has to distinguish on three spheres of action and consequently between three spheres of necessary moral decision making: politics – strategy – tactics. Politics has to formulate the purpose of war, Strategy has to formulate the aim of warfare, Tactics has to formulate the means of military action.[10] At each level one has to make moral decisions both in order not to jeopardize the legitimating morality of the whole enterprise[11] and to succeed in realising the political purpose.

In the following, I will proceed with my deductions from the absolute standpoint. I will also show each step as an indispensable precondition for the more concrete one, and this is the common method of transcendental deduction.


3. The Practical Sphere or: The dialectical dimension of the Morality of political purposes[12]


As we have learned from Kant, a moral act has two necessary moments: the moral quality of motivation and the serious effort to undertake every exertion to realise this morally taken decision. What makes a motivation „moral“ in a Kantian sense? One is morally motivated if and only if one’s reason for action is in comply with the Categorical Imperative. The C.I. represents practical rationality (Praktische Vernunft) or Plato’s Logistikon: Whatever decision one is about to make, it has to pass the muster of categoriality or unconditionality[13]. The essence of this categoriality-test is universality: Is it conceivable to realize a course of action, if everyone else implements the same?[14] The main point is that if the success of my action depended on everyone else’s omission, my act would be morally wrong. This is more or less the meaning of Kant‘s well known C.I.: "One has to act in a manner, so that the maxim of one‘s will can always be in force at the same time as a universal law." Each will, that cannot be universalized, cannot be seen as moral. The central point of Kant’s analysis is to arrive at a clear understanding of what we mean when we speak about the „good will“. The good will is free from logical contradiction. Another way of explaining this is to assume that the decision be applied to oneself[15].

Leading a „moral“ war requires moral motiv. The fight for universal rights – as the human rights are – is the best example for such a „moral“ motivation.[16] Therefore a war with the only motivation to enforce the acceptance of the human rights would therefore be an universalizable motive[17] for the use of force. The question of whether a war should be fought against every kind of human rights violation is a problem of its own that need not be dealt with here. There are good causes to use military force only to prevent the massive and systematical violation of basic human rights. But there is no moral argument available to wage war in order to stabilize the raw material supply[18], e. g. – it might not be universalized to act in that way without devastating the planet.


The pure morality is an important precondition for a moral use of military force, but Kant also demands that a serious effort be made to realize one’s good intention. Otherwise we can only speak of wishes, but not of a real will. Admittedly Kant doesn’t demand that one succeed, but he insists on the serious effort[19]. For Kant, the morality of a political decision therefore depends on the clear will and the strong effort to realize it: open argument, even against public opinion and the provision of adequate means, both personal and material, are necessary to make the decision a moral one. This calls for a kind of political bravery, both to argue the possible loss of lifes and the necessary costs which have to be born out to fulfill the moral mission decided by the political leadership. War has to have „human“ face, that means it mustn’t violate those moral ends to which it has been devoted: one cannot morally fight for human rights in an inhuman way. If one is not prepared to fight a human war (at high risk for the soldiers or at high cost for the budget), the morality of the crusade will fail.

Therefore a certain form of Thymoeides, of political virtue and courage of one’s convictions is asked in this respect. Only to declare a moral intention without providing the necessary means to reach the goal doesn’t meet the requirements of morality. The political class has to stand the danger of political losses in the name of moral principles. Only to act in the name of national interest may be easier to argue publicly, but this principle is not a moral one in the sense of Kant. In the sense of Kant, each state has to optimize the legality worldwide and therefore the progress of human rights, but not the proper nation interests. This would lead only to a prolongation of the „natural state“ in international relations instead of building up legality in international relations.

The proper means include a striking military power, for which to provide both political and financial support is an everlasting obligation of an responsible political leadership, which does not try to avoid its own responsibility by refraining from building up a political adequate military power - according to the saying: ultra posse nemo tenetur: a state that hasn’t the necessary military means, is necessarily out of obligation and has not to confront oneself to the hard case of political might and implicit responsibility.


What are the conditions for succeeding with moral action in national politics and international relations? They consist in minimal Epithymetikon-basis of legality, both national and international. Without a national „sense of law“ one cannot lead a moral war, because the political power itself isn’t bound by a stable system of responsibility, which is necessary to be able to act internationally in a lawful way. The basis of the public consciousness has to be a legal one: the political powers which are embarking on moral warfare have to be responsible to their people. But this responsibility doesn’t help much without a people which is not bound by principles of legitimacy, too, principles, for which – according to Kant - the law has to guarantee.[21]

On the international side, moral military action has to be seen in the light of the institutionalisation of international law. An action cannot be legitimate when it contradicts the international law and lawful organisations. Therefore a moral war cannot be moral anymore without being legal, with one exception: what has to be done, if the institution itself hampers e. g. the realisation of human rights? In this case the legitimacy of such a formally illegal crusade is solved if the legitimacy of the war can be proved, in particular, if the legitimacy in question can be found in the basic principles of the institution, whose procedures appear to be – by comparison to its principles – defective. The consequence has to be the radical reform of the organisation, to overcome a – partly illegitimate proceduralism – in favour of value-consistency.


4. The Theoretical Sphere or: The dialectical dimension of the Morality of strategical aims[22]

What are the key-points of an efficient army to realize moral decisions in order to correspond a nation’s political weight in international relations? As we learn from Clausewitz, even in this sphere moral forces and moral values are indispensable. That does not mean the pure Kantian morality (although Clausewitz was well trained in Kantian Philosophy), but the more ethical dimension of the whole dialectical structure of moral military action. Again I shall commence with the absolute step:


The first step of successful military acting lies in the commanding field: the genius of the commander, the leader, the Logistikon of the whole warfare, has to be of particular quality to safeguard the morality-sustaining military success. As Clausewitz stresses, the military genius consists of a special combination of „gifts of Spirit“ and „temperament“. Therefore the military educational system has to generate these ingenious characters by selecting and educating its personel - we find here a problem similar to Plato’s: How has such a selection to be managed, without violating the values which are to realized by this generating? Before we can answer this question, we must examine the characteristics of a military genius - at least the way Clausewitz sees it: First of all, because war is the field of the unforeseen, both coup d’oeil (internal eye) and courage d’esprit (determination) the core-gifts of both Spirit and character, which form in their unique combination the basis of military brilliance, are required. The first one, the sense for the military situation, shall lead to preparedness towards „rapid and accurate decisions“, while the last one determination, is the unique combination of intellect and temperament. A military genius is characterised by making clear decisions in complexe situations, without hesitation or carelessness. The genius takes the „rapid and accurate decision“ and carries it out straightforwardly. In addition to these two characteristics, Clausewitz emphasis the ‘presence of spirit’ as an related quality of a military genius the same way as ‘strength of will’. The central challenge of a high rank military commander lies in the „ebbing of moral and physical strength“ of his soldiers - the more desperate the situation turns out to be, the more necessary is his leadership quality to withstand the danger of a breakdown of his forces. Therefore the core-feature of a military genius is his inside balance both between intellectual analysis combined with eye-sharping flair and habitual courage combined with encouraging emotions.

Having described the qualification of a ingenious commander now, what ought to be done to generate such commanders? The best men and women of a nation have to be selected to find out who is gifted in character to lead soldiers in battle and fight successfully. The political establishment and the military leadership are both obliged to create an armed service organisation that attracts the best of a nation to join the services - the elite of the society, since no one else in modern society is[23] master of life and death towards his charges. On the other hand, every commander has to accept and fulfill with pride the selective course of qualification in mental and physical respect - a good inspiration for such an educational program could be found in Plato’s Politeia - as far as the King (= in our context: the Commander) is concerned[24] - at least when reading the passage of Clausewitz on the Military Genius, one cannot avoid being remembered of Politeia.

Having described the Logistikon-aspect of the military action, we shall now turn to the Thymoeides-aspect, the view of the front soldier, the troops.


Those who have to face the risk of life as their destination, the front troops, need virtue to meet their challenges. These virtues are a little bit more specific than „only“ to be brave. As Clausewitz again stresses, the Military Virtues of an Army are: obedience, order, rule and method - and all that - unlike the commander - in the shadow of both public interest and history. For that reason the adequate men and women are to be found who are ready to sacrifice their life to the public good or respectively the morality of one’s country’s policy. Without knowing anything about the role-differentiation-aspect, Clausewitz already pleaded for a „professional pride“ (esprit de corps), which would necessarily have to be generated and could only provide such an amount of bond within the unit which could sustain something elementary threatening like Ernst Jünger’s[25] „Stahlgewitter“. Only if the motivation, the education of each man/woman and the unifying spirit of a the whole unit is optimally combined, one can speak of a military virtuous army. How can such a spirit be formed? Not through emotionless professionalism, but only in the way of tradition, commitment, pride and self-respect. The best way to generate such a spirit is - after Clausewitz - hard commonly mastered mental or physical challenges, which lead into a won battle or war. Those are the self-founding circumstances, which creat such a ‘spirit of the unit’, which can last for years. Extremely hard drill alone can only maintain such a spirit, but - by no means - create it. One could say that such a ‘spirit of the unit’ makes an organic corps out of a number of individuals, because an organic corps is caracterised in being affected as a whole, when only one part is hurt. That makes all of the difference to a mere mechanical union of individuals, who will always view their own existence as independent form the fate of that whole Unity, which opens the door to the sphere of true virtue, of Thymoeides.


The Epithymetikon-basis of an adequate army lies not only in the material supplies of the armed forces - although this budgetary aspect is of central relevance to the question of the public recognition of armed forces being a valuable part, if not an indispensable foundations[26] of the modern civil society, but also in a patriotic attitude towards the state and its powers: only a constitutional patriotism in the public sphere can back up the morality of armed forces. If, however, the public attitude towards the state and its powers is a radical individualistic one of bloodless selfishness, an indispensable precondition for successful moral action[27] in international affairs is absent. In this context one should never forget the Clausewitz-based insight into the essence of conflict: the greatest peace-lover is the attacking aggressor, who regularly wishes nothing more than a „peaceful“ reaction of the victim, his allies or the international public in general towards his aggression.[28] Therefore the defender of right, morality and values is doomed to war - a position not easily to be argued in an secular society of formalized justice[29].


5. The Metaphysical Sphere or: The dialectical dimension of the Morality of tactical means[30]

However, one basic question remains: why has a war to be fought in a rightful way to be effective? The normative answer was: because one must not fight for an Humanitarian Aim violating humanity. It was Kant’s theory of practical reason which led us to that conclusion. But there exists also a metaphysical reason for that coherence: the idealistic one of the identity of duty and Spirit.

Spirit[31] as the Essence of both human and natural Existence

To start with the Logistikon-aspect of the problem, the - so to speak - solution, which is by the way also the salvation[32] of the Spirit, too: Spirit is the truth of matter and matter is only the manner, in which Spirit has lost itself in estrangement. The whole history is nothing else than the reconciliation of Spirit with itself. Its strangest form of being is the anorganic nature. The next highest stage is the organic nature, the highest materialist stage is man. From Plato to Hegel[33], this stage is the point, at which Spirit (or the antique Idea) can overcome matter and return to pure spirituality. Although this sounds quite dualistic, one has to avoid this fatal error - an error, which - to start with antique „Platonism“ - has survived the millennia. From the beginning, this „Spirit“ did not stand for a counter-world, which lies in a form of transcendence, a shadow world or else. It was Kant, who gave the decisive hint: this Spirit-Matter-relation has to be understood not in a transcendence, but in a transcendental way: Spirit is not something absolutely different from matter, but it is its essence (Wesen). Aristotle called that Energeia, Heidegger Being - it is that what lets matter take part in Existence.

Morality[34] as the appearance of Spirit

The Thymoeides-aspect leads us to the following question: How can man therefore become aware of Spirit? In what specific dimension shows Spirit itself to Humanity? In the form of moral obligation. Beginning with Kant, it was clear that the pure Morality is of radical importance for man, because man is both gifted and condemned[35] with the insight into practical reason. Without that practical reason, without the idea of autonomy, man cannot realize himself, his conscience, his ability to have obligations, duties, freedom. But in this Thymoeides-sphere, we have to overcome the abstract aspect of personal morality and its logical implications. The ethical stage has to be entered: From that abstract notion of Duty or Morality, Hegel finally came to his concept of the concrete Ethical State as coronation of Objective Spirit, before turning his dialectical development into the sphere of Absolute Spirit[36]. In our context, that means that moral decision making represents the appearance of Spirit. As a consequence of this, Morality qua appearance of Spirit is of higher „Truth“ than Immorality (which represents error or sin), what will lead the moral action to success, because - to stress again Plato - it is better to follow the true ideas and the sunlight of the Good than the shadow-pictures on the cave-wall of empiric evidence - although at first sight the true ideas seem to be more than strange, they are nothing but uncommon.

Nature[37] as the Matter of Duty

The last, the Epithymetikon-step has to be made: How can I fulfill my duty? What do I have to do? For Fichte, Idea, Spirit, Reason is the leading principle, which has to overcome the one-sided materialistic or empiristic sight of Reality. As Fichte puts it: there are two radical positions which cannot be reconciled: either you believe in the priority of matter or you believe in the priority of Spirit. Practically speaking that means: either you believe that you are nothing but the object of physical force or you believe in your liberty (autonomy). Is matter determining the consciousness or is the consciousness determining the matter. For Fichte the answer is clear: Matter (and therefore the unconscious nature) is the matter of duty. That does not mean, that Nature has no value of its own, but it is the sphere, in which man has to realize his duty by acting morally, in which man has an opportunity to reconcile matter and mind and, hence to ‘build Spirit into nature’ (Schelling’s einbilden), because Spirit is the true - even if necessarily unconscious - essence of Nature, too.[38] Therefore you are not allowed (not to mention neither obliged) to exploit Nature, because Nature is not only the material for duty, but it is man’s only possiblity for duty-fulfilling. Men who are not fulfilling their duty are failing their humanity: the human being is essentially a duty-character, because he is a reasonable creature, and - as we know - reason appears as duty.In this way Fichte found Nature deducted while not giving up the priority of Spirit[39], what counts most for Fichte as a Subjective Idealist.

As far as our deductions are concerned, we have now come to a very „immediate“ and therefore epithymetikon-like consequence: man is not obliged to sorrow for his ‘wellness’, which is - generally speaking - a physical one, but man is obliged to sorrow for his goodness in a spiritual sense. You cannot take a bare means for the moral aim, and therefore one shall not make one’s physical well-being one’s highest purpose of existence. Man has to sustain his physical existence[40] to be lasting in the position to fulfill one’s duty. And only one’s duty is acceptable to be the cause for physical destruction of a person, however ... not enjoyment and not sorrow...


6. Conclusions

Each military act has to be considered in a practical, theoretical and metaphysical way: each shot in the battlefield has comprehensive implications and it was the purpose of this text, to address this complexity. The preceeding outline is nothing else than a first sketch of a possible metaphysical foundation (which has by all means to be a systematical one[41]) of the concepts concerning the Morality of Military Decision Making, but I think it could - even as a mere sketch - help in assessing the adequacy of the different models of morality, especially because this question is of vital importance in the military field. There we have exactly the alternative of life and duty, to which my considerations lead, and at that point an existential (and therefore not only „academic“) decision has to be made. This short notes should only point out the argumentative dimensions of that dilemma, which could perhaps help to master the challenge of developing both a value-catalogue and a educational curriculum concerning the moral, ethical and spiritual implications of military action. Without such a comprehensive approach towards the Morality of Military Action, the problem will hardly be solved in all its dimensions, what does not mean, that the considerations offered here would already lead us one step closer to the resolution of the problem. But I am convinced that without these aspects in mind one can by no means answer the fundamental question in an adequate way - and this comprehensive meaning is the essence of a transcendental argument.




[1]       The author is Dr. of Law and Dr. of Philosophy, university assistent at the Institute for Philosophy of Law / Law Faculty / University of Vienna (Austria – European Union). Member of the Science Commission of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence. Special research field: Political Philosophy of the German Idealism, Military Philosophy and Political Philosophy of International Relations. The e-mail-address is: Christian.Stadler@univie.ac.at

[2]       That means: legitimacy.

[3]       Hahlweg, Werner: „Militärwesen und Philosophie“, in: Österreichische Militärische Zeitschrift 5/1976, 396 f

[4]       One could see the destruction of the Prussian Army in the War against Napoleon as empiric proof of this gap.

[5]       How could one otherwise think about something? One always has to think something specific. But I has however to admit that in thinking one is actually overcoming the gap between res extensa and res cogitans - but how come?

[6]       That means that for Hegel reality already consists of this Unity and has „only“ to be reflected on, while for Plato (and for Fichte) this harmony has to be achieved by the continuing effort of human action: Not enjoyment, and not sorrow / Is our destined end or way / But to act that each to-morrow / Find us farther than to-day (Voices of the Night [A Psalm of Life]; by: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882))

[7]       The theory of organic, i.e. holistic social thinking was developed in 19th century Political Romanticism which was generated on the basic ideas of Fichte and Schelling. In the present, these ideas have been re-activated in the Communitarian thinking and are therefore highly up to date.

[8]       C.f. the tensions about the WTO-process.

[9]       Which preconditions have to be fulfilled to allow the possibility of succeeding in enforcing one’s will.

[10]     E.g. in the Kosovo Intervention the political purpose might have been to create a safe and peaceful living-space for the Kosovars; the strategic aim might have been the breaking of the Serbian state-power in the Kosovo-Province (to achieve the political purpose of creating a safe and peaceful living-space for the Kosovars) and the tactical means might have been the bombing of Serbian infrastructure (to achieve the strategic aim of breaking the Serbian state power in that province in order to create a safe and peaceful living-space for the Kosovars).

[11]     C.f.: Tony Blair‘s article in Newsweek [Jun 14, 1999] on the Morality of the „Balkan-Crusade“

[12]     Keywords: Logistikon, Reason; Kant.

[13]     In contrast to a Hypothetical (or: conditional) Imperative, which is the basis of utilitarian ethics: Think about any puropse (even a completely selfish one is not impossible) and everything that helps one to reach this aim (homo mensura – like), is for that reason alone „moral“. No other criteria are necessary or possible. The origin of that thought lies in the misinterpretation of the Aristotelian concept of the „good“, understood as the adequate, the succeeding, the suitable. Here however, we are talking about the morality of an autonomous spirit, not only about the functionality of things, – but also – as implied in the utilitarian concept– of persons.

[14]     E.g. a thief cannot universalize his decision of stealing because if everyone stole, he could not „steal“ any more because his „success“ could not take place: firstly the institution of „property“ would no longer exist and additionally, it would be of no interest to the thief, because he would have to expect to lose the object in the next future through now being stolen from him. Therefore stealing cannot be universalized and is consequently immoral, or: the thief cannot want to apply this maxim of stealing to himself without making his decision senseless. The whole point of stealing lies in the fact, that in general no one else steals, so the thief necessarily claims an exemption for himself from the general law against stealing – he cannot (logically) bear an self-application of his action, and therefore his maxim is immoral: if everyone stole, stealing as such could not „succeed“ any more.

[15]     The direct opposite of the unconditionality of Kant’s C.I. is relativism, the sophistical homo-mensura concept, which stresses, that not an objective principle, but the subjective condition of the concrete individual is the normative criterion or measure of morality. With his transcendental approach, Kant however neglects a legitimative relevance of intuition or emotion, because these aspects are not rational (vernünftig) and therefore not universalizable. We will see „rational“ explained in the pages to come.

[16]     Kant says, that only out of duty one can act morally and each form of affection may accompany that acting, but it is not allowed to cause it. Otherwise you would not act in an automous, but in an heteronomous way, what would not meet man’s humanity.

[17]     Because it is logically arguable that human rights should be realised wherever human beings live – it is not the „exemption of the rule“-problem.

[18]     As always, the prolbem lies in the hard case: how about the water-supply for a thursting population? This will be doubtlessly the main war-motivation-scenario in the next century. Has everyone an universalizable claim to sufficient water-supply? Surely only to an extent which doesn’t damage the water-owning and therefore natural „enemy“ more heavily than the own – to be averted – damage amounts.

[19]     Otherwise the morality (and with it the legitimative power) of the decision would vanish.

[20]     With „legality“ I mean in a Kantian sense the attitude to act as the moral law demands, but without a pure (or objective) moral motivation. One cannot ask for such a pure moral attitude without moralising the people, but one can demand the attititude to recognize the potentional morality of one‘s neighbour and with that his freedom, which – in a „legal“ sense - isn’t anything more than the recognition of everbody else’s morality and therefore dignity as a human being (=legitimacy). In this context, I do not understand positive laws under „legality“, which would have to be checked up on their legitimacy.

[21]     Kant couldn’t imagine the „legal atrocities“ taking place in the 20th century. Therefore his understanding of law was a very uncritical, and consequentally legitimative one.

[22]     Keywords: Thymoeides; Ethos; Clausewitz.

[23]     In his own responsibility.

[24]     It is another question how the poltical leaders of a society should be selected. But in the military respect, one has to admit that Plato has a lot of interesting impulses to contribute to our days.

[25]     Ernst Jünger is a famous German author who created this notion with the battles of WW I in mind.

[26]     As Machiavelli put it in his (next to The Prince and Discorses) third masterpiece of political writing, in the Art of War.

[27]     Which exceeds the readiness to give humanitarian donations to the suffering - partly from the not yet politically acting free democracies, among others because of a „peaceloving critical public“ - you have to prepare war if you don’t want to be hurt by inhumantity unprotected.

[28]     Only in this case his costs of fulfilling injustice and subjection can be kept low concerning his men’s blood and his own political power.

[29]     A society called by Hegel the „Civil Society“, which essentially is lacking ethical substance - a lack, which forces the dialectical development beyond its limits of legal formality up into the Ethical State.

[30]     Keywords: Epithymetikon; substance; Idealism.

[31]     I cannot discuss in this context the difference between Spirit, Reason, Spirit, Idea, Notion, Be and so on. For that reason, I shall use „Spirit“ to indicate all these instances.

[32]     One should never forget, that Fichte, Schelling and Hegel have all studied Protestant Theology.

[33]     And therefore in the philosophia perennis.

[34]     Which means Substantielle Sittlichkeit, Duty, with the concrete vitues of Solidarity or Charity.

[35]     Sartre: Condammné à liberté.

[36]     I.e. Art, revealed Religion, and Philosophy.

[37]     Both human and non-human nature, whatever is an object, body.

[38]     Therein lies the secret of Fichte’s pedagogical theory, too: no one can violate the development of a child, e. g., through making it (without the use of physical force, of course) accept responsibility or duty as core values. On the contrary, the anti-authoritarian approach hinders the child in his necessary self-determination-process, because the „determinating“-aspect is lacking - to be free like the wind, without any commitments, isn’t at all „human“, because since the Aristotelian times we know that man is a zoon politikon and not an abstract atomistic individual - it have been the German Idealists, who re-discovered this fundamental insight.

[39]     That makes the central difference between Schellng and Fiche: Schelling didn’t accept that kind of Nature-deduction and tried to make out a substantial essence of Nature, not only a Spirit-derived, instrumental one. That’s why Schelling developed his System of Identity.

[40]     That’s why suicide is morally forbidden.

[41]     Otherwise this concept would be unable to open the sight to the meta-physical truth of Idea, Mind, Reason, Spirit, which is caracterised as necessary and universal. See already Gothes, who knew: Would our eye not be sunlike, it could not perceive the sun, ....