War as Aesthetic: The Philosophy of Carl von Clausewitz as the Embodiment of John Dewey's Concept of Experience
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This dissertation confirms war as the zenith of aesthetic experience and demonstrates the pragmatic nature of war through explication of John Dewey’s aesthetic philosophy. Likewise, the coherency of Carl von Clausewitz’s philosophy parallels Dewey as it too leads to complete development, or flourishing, of the individual in a complex, ever-changing world. Von Clausewitz’s sets his philosophy in the context of war, but his philosophy transcends that milieu. The timelessness of the General’s philosophical concepts guarantees the appropriateness of these concepts in today’s inconstant world. To exemplify this point, this paper applied von Clausewitz’s concepts to the range of contemporary wars in which the demands on modern warriors are often perceived as qualitatively different from demands placed on individuals in the armies of the early 1800s. This perception is shown to lack credibility and, even though the methods and technologies of war are in continuous flux while the basic nature of war remains unchanged, the germane nature of the General’s philosophy to contemporary times remains unsullied and follows logically. Rather than simply asserting that the concepts of these two philosophers are apropos in the contemporary context of war, this dissertation concludes by contending that modern military thinkers employ the Clausewitzian philosophy, as synthesized by John Boyd, as a basis for fighting in today’s contemporary environment. As an exemplar, the current doctrine of the United States Marine Corps is offered as a template of the philosophy of von Clausewitz and, by extension, Dewey. Modern war, once established as an archetype of the Deweyan philosophy, can be claimed as the primary illustration of the aesthetic.
De Berg, Oak Herbert (2011). War as Aesthetic: The Philosophy of Carl von Clausewitz as the Embodiment of John Dewey's Concept of Experience. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from