Kant and Clausewitz : a philosophy of actuality

Wooding, Nathaniel (2022) Kant and Clausewitz : a philosophy of actuality. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis aims to do two things. The first aim is to trace the precise manner in which Kant’s thought is transmitted to Clausewitz through the intermediary of J. G. Kiesewetter (one Kant’s preferred students). To do this it engages with numerous sources, the most important of which being Kiesewetter’s lectures at the Berlin Military Academy, later published, with his own lecture notes, as Grundriß einer reinen allgemeinen Logik…, and Clausewitz’s early notes and drafts for an uncompleted text on the concepts of strategy and tactics, composed, according to Werner Hahlweg, between 1809-12 (published in Schriften, Aufsätze, Studien, Briefe). This latter text not only shows clear evidence of the Kantian and Kiesewettian influence on Clausewitz, visible in the latter’s use of the Kantian notions of “formal and material truth”, “Sinn und Bedeutung”, it also allows to draw out, with a greater deal of confidence and precision, the philosophical aspects of Clausewitz’s mature work, Vom Kreige. The second aim of this thesis, which develops out of the research undertaken for the first, is to attempt to understand and to pursue the implications of allowing the concept of actuality to be considered as prior to the concept of possibility. This philosophical position is the one held, this thesis contests, by the mature Clausewitz and signals at once the latter’s fidelity and infidelity to the Kantian project, which, though often articulating and even seeming to rely upon this inversion, seeks elsewhere to withdraw from the consequences of such a position. The priority accorded to actuality, as Clausewitz understands it, entails a foregrounding of effects of friction (Friktion), of a world characterised by chance, uncertainty, and disturbed causal chains, and demands the development of a logic of strategy.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page