Essay about War

1310 Words 6 Pages
The first issue to be considered is what is war and what is its definition. The student of war needs to be careful in examining definitions of war, for like any social phenomena, definitions are varied, and often the proposed definition masks a particular political or philosophical stance paraded by the author. This is as true of dictionary definitions as well as of articles on military or political history.

Cicero defines war broadly as "a contention by force"; Hugo Grotius adds that "war is the state of contending parties, considered as such"; Thomas Hobbes notes that war is also an attitude: "By war is meant a state of affairs, which may exist even while its operations are not continued"; Denis Diderot
…show more content…
There are other schools of thought on war's nature other than the political-rationalist account, and the student of war must be careful, as noted above, not to incorporate a too narrow or normative account of war. If war is defined as something that occurs only between states, then wars between nomadic groups should not be mentioned, nor would hostilities on the part of a displaced, non-state group against a state be considered war.

An alternative definition of war is that it is an all-pervasive phenomenon of the universe. Accordingly, battles are mere symptoms of the underlying belligerent nature of the universe; such a description corresponds with a Heraclitean or Hegelian philosophy in which change (physical, social, political, economical, etc) can only arise out of war or violent conflict. Heraclitus decries that "war is the father of all things," and Hegel echoes his sentiments. Interestingly, even Voltaire, the embodiment of the Enlightenment, followed this line: "Famine, plague, and war are the three most famous ingredients of this wretched world...All animals are perpetually at war with each other...Air, earth and water are arenas of destruction." (From Pocket Philosophical Dictionary).

Alternatively, the Oxford Dictionary expands the definition to include "any active hostility or struggle between living beings; a conflict between opposing forces or principles." This avoids the narrowness of a political-rationalist