We should get toughness without callousness, 292 authority with as little criminal cruelty as possible, and painful work done cheerily because the duty is temporary, and threatens not, as now, to degrade the whole remainder of one's life. This proto-Ayn Randian line of thought means taking the human will and pouring it into Industry in order to build monuments such as railroads and skyscrapers celebrating human achievement to the detriment of the biosphere. Thus were the more martial tribes selected, and in chiefs and peoples a pure pugnacity and love of glory came to mingle with the more fundamental appetite for plunder. William James was an early twentieth century American philosopher and psychologist. We inherit the warlike type; and for most of the capacities of heroism that the human race is full of we have to thank this cruel history.
With all of the prices one has to pay and with all of the negative consequences that come from war, it is hard to fathom what could possibly be worth the trouble. The Moral Equivalent of War William James 1910 The war against war is going to be no holiday excursion or camping party. Subject to this criticism 275 and caution, I will try to characterize in abstract strokes the opposite imaginative forces, and point out what to my own very fallible mind seems the best utopian hypothesis, the most promising line of conciliation. Modern war is so expensive that we feel trade to be a better avenue to plunder; but modern man inherits all the innate pugnacity and all the love of glory of his ancestors. When we mistreat them we suffer guilt or remorse. Militarism is the great preserver of our ideals of hardihood, and human life with no use for hardihood would be contemptible.
Why should men not some day feel that is it worth a blood-tax to belong to a collectivity superior in any respect? They are its first form, but that is no reason for supposing them to be its last form. History is a bath of blood. It suggests, in truth, ubiquitous inferiority. It is plain that on this subject civilized man has developed a sort of double personality. Reflective apologists for war at the present day all take it religiously. The other three siblings William, Henry, and Alice James all suffered from periods of invalidism. He uses patriotism as one of the reasons why we should partake in war, and I concur.
No collectivity is like an army for nourishing such pride; but it has to be confessed that the only sentiment which the image of pacific cosmopolitan industrialism is capable of arousing in countless worthy breasts is shame at the idea of belonging to such a collectivity. Without any exception known to me, militarist authors take a highly mystical view of their subject, and regard war as a biological or sociological necessity, uncontrolled by ordinary psychological checks or motives. Pure loot and mastery seem no longer morally avowable motives, and pretexts must be found for attributing them solely to the enemy. His early artistic bent led to an apprenticeship in the studio of William Morris Hunt in Newport, Rhode Island, but he switched in 1861 to scientific studies at the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University. He asks, Can we sustain political unity and civic virtue in the absence of war or a creditable threat? The war-party is assuredly right in affirming and reaffirming that the martial virtues, although originally gain by the race through war, are absolute and permanent human goods.
All these beliefs of mine put me squarely into the antimilitarist party. Why should men not some day feel that it is worth a blood-tax to belong to a collectivity superior in any ideal respect? If proud of the collectivity, his own pride rises in proportion. James, by the way, called himself a pacifist, then spoke scathingly about pacifists who liked to advocate peace from within completely comfortable lives. This natural sort of feeling forms, I think, the innermost soul of army-writings. Such was the gory nurse that trained societies to cohesiveness. United States Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.
If proud of the collectivity, his own pride rises in proportion. William James is a good example of a very strong philosopher, and his 1906 essay is still hugely influential. Note how he equivocates plunder gained by war with plunder gained by trade, wiping out the concept of force and the principle of rights. I myself think it our bounden duty to believe in such international rationality as possible. It becomes true, is made true by events. If war had ever stopped, we should have to re-invent it, on this view, to redeem life from flat degeneration.
All the qualities of a man acquire dignity when he knows that the service of the collectivity that owns him needs them. And as a rule they do fail. It is only a question of blowing on the spark until the whole population gets incandescent, and on the ruins of the old morals of military honor, a stable system of morals of civic honor builds itself up. . This will give Japan what her ineluctable vocation as a state absolutely forces her to claim, the possession of the entire Pacific Ocean; and to oppose these deep designs we Americans have, according to our author, nothing but our conceit, our ignorance, our commercialism, our corruption, and our feminism.
Fie upon such a cattleyard of a planet! The only other references used to compound this thesis will be statements from former heads of state, as corresponding to the subject of war. Houses a couple of hundred years old are still satisfactory places of residence, so little have our standards risen. And beside the feeble and irregular endowment of research by commercialism, its little shortsighted snatches at profit by innovation and scientific economy, see how remarkable is the steady and rapid development of method and appliances in naval and military affairs! Unfortunately, the time has come where we have had to make the difficult business decision to end the Wikispaces service. Where shall the conversation begin? The duty is incumbent on mankind, of keeping military characters in stock of keeping them, if not for use, then as ends in themselves and as pure pieces of perfection, - so that Roosevelt's weaklings and mollycoddles may not end by making everything else disappear from the face of nature. William James was born at the Astor House in New York City.
His emphasis was on the action in consciousness, inseparable from the physiology and chemistry of the individual brain. He is merely reacting to the problems that immediately affect him. What the whole community comes to believe in grasps the individual as in a vise. What is James trying to say here? That this is a question on which mu The Moral Equivalent of War, the last public utterance of William James, is significant as expressing the opinions of a practical psychologist on a question of growing popular interest. This page and related Mead Project pages constitute the personal web-site of Dr.
In effect, it was the defining feature of his life, and Westmoreland was the defining face of Vietnam. However, this can be accomplished perfectly well in a society where not everyone thinks like a soldier. Fie upon such a cattleyard of a planet! The envoys meet, and hold a debate which Thucydides gives in full, and which, for sweet reasonableness of form, would have satisfied Matthew Arnold. These insistent unwillingnesses, no less than other aesthetic and ethical insistencies, have, it seems to me, to be listened to and respected. Patriotic pride and ambition in their military form are, after all, only specifications of a more general competitive passion. If so, how do you think it is possible to do this in your own work, service, or life? The militarily-patriotic and the romantic-minded everywhere, and especially the professional military class, refuse to admit for a moment that war may be a transitory phenomenon in social evolution.