Reason, Passion, and Power in the Thought of Clausewitz

"Reason, Passion, and Power in the Thought of Clausewitz," Social Research, v39 n4 (Winter: 1972): 599-621.  


Perhaps you will be surprised to find Clausewitz ranked among the great political philosophers. Does the author of the treatise on war, so widely quoted but so rarely read, merit this place of honor? Or is it proper to abandon him to those officers who, often without understanding him, invoke his name on every occasion? Should one subscribe to the arrogance and unfair judgment of Liddel Hart, who discerns an unsolicited and unreciprocated love of philosophy on the parts of the Prussian officer: the use of the language of philosophy without a real mastery of the philosophical spirit?

I shall turn to the Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce, from whom I borrow the following: “the difference and aloofness to works such as those of Clausewitz must be understood in terms of the narrowness and poverty of the average culture and of the philosophers, they’re up to use specialism, their provincialism and, frankly, their habits of mind. They held this reason big to be foreign and inferior to theirs, when in fact, we must deal with inquiries which penetrates, any most concrete matter, to the heart of certain philosophical problems, and by the very fact that they helped to resolve them, brought to light other problems, as all philosophical problems are intertwined.”

Croce  is correct: Clausewitz is indeed a philosopher, but in what sense?