I'm asking from a sociological perspective here.

Motivation: I wonder if it is true that technological development is better during war time, and if so, why? Is it because the review process is different/faster? Is it because people are forced to work together? Forced by whom? 20th century history has had some "geniuses", but then again it seems that these people might just have had the advantage of being brought together (e.g. in the Manhattan project, where Feynman gets to meet Von Neuman).

I don't think I'm the first to make this conjecture, and so I wonder if there have ever been people making this point to support a pro-war agenda.

  • Russell was pro-war in 'exteme cases'. But I acknowledge that doesn't render him as being generally pro-war. IMO, I don't think one could be pro-war without coming to be regarded as an academic novelty. I tend to wrongly assume that people share my take on the world. I don't think many known philosophers would have come-out as pro-war even if they were.
    – Hal
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 10:56
  • 3
    @Hal Russell was an anti-war activist, for which he was convicted during WOI. It's true that Russell during WOII said that defeating Germany was simply necessary for the greater good. In his words: "“very few wars are worth fighting, and that the evils of war are almost always greater than they seem to excited populations at the moment when war breaks out” (Russell, “The Future of Pacifism”, The American Scholar, 13: 8).
    – Ben
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 11:43
  • Maybe they just stand out as geniuses because the rest of the capable people of their generation just died...
    – haxor789
    Commented Feb 25 at 18:12

3 Answers 3


"9. We want to glorify war — the only cure for the world — militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman." F.T. Marinetti. The Futurist Manifesto. 1909.


War breaks the routine of comfortable life; by means of its severe ordeals, it offers a transfiguring knowledge of life, life according to death. (Julius Evola)

Carl Schmitt was also arguably 'pro-war', depending on what you mean by that: he found war to be the essence of 'the political', and argued that genuine pacifism was self-defeating and against nature. Pacifism can technically triumph in the world but only after a total international war to end all wars, at which point the political sphere of life would be eliminated, and man would be reduced to a sort of zoo animal.

Ernst Junger also comes to mind.

Some people might dispute that all or some of these men were 'true' philosophers though; Schmitt is the only one with an entry in SEP, if that's anything to go by.


Martin Heidegger has reportedly written after World War Two:

"Hundreds of thousands die en masse. Do they die.'? They succumb. They are done in. Do they die.'? They become mere quanta, items in an inventory in the business of manufacturing corpses. Do they die? They are liquidated inconspicuously in extermination camps. And even apart from that, right now millions of impoverished people are perishing from hunger in China."

The author of a recent article comments on "Heidegger's obvious insensitivity to the suffering wrought by the Second World War" here.

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    There is much to say about Heidegger relation with the war and with early nazism. However this excerpt is rather anti-war: it shows how inhuman the WWII war in that it even automated the killing and thus deprived the people it killed from their humanity, even in death.
    – Johan
    Commented Feb 26 at 14:19
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    @Johan, your reading of Heidegger's comment is far more charitable than that of the author of the article, who felt that it displays insensitivity to the suffering. I think the author of the article has a point. Why would Heidegger bring in the millions of impoverished people dying from hunger in China if not to relativize the significance of what is going on in Europe? Commented Feb 26 at 14:22
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    @Johan, feel free to interpret Heidegger as you feel fit. I am simply reporting what the author of the article wrote about this. Note that Heidegger was unfortunately a National Socialism supporter throughout, as well as a Jew-hater. Commented Feb 26 at 14:38
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    The quote is indeed from Heidegger, and is quoted in the article linked. You may have noticed that I avoid using the Na* word, using the historically more precise National Socialism. @JonathanZ Commented Feb 26 at 15:36
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    @JonathanZ, The article took a very long time to load but finally it did, when I tried. The two terms have the same meaning but the shorter one is too emotionally laden to be a useful historical category. Commented Feb 26 at 16:08

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