Negativity comes to mind on the issue of war as it is heard to be brutal or fatal, especially on innocent people and one cannot help but to hope for an outcome of peace or prosperity. Some respectful philosophers such as Mo Tzu, Sun Tzu, Eugene Delacroix, Pablo Picasso, Margaret Mead, Kenzaburo Oe, and Jean Bethke Elshtain can be found writing about their theories on war and peace in the text book, Reading the World: Ideas that Matter by Michael Austin.
Over the years the issue of war has not disappeared nor has it ceased from carrying on lethal acts.
Two men among the respectful list are Kenzaburo Oe and mo Tzu, both of these men shared similar theories. In Kenzaburo Oe’s The Unsurrendered People, he writes about the horrible even that occurred in Hiroshima and of the “American intellectuals” (289), who committed the devastation. Kenzaburo Oe finds it difficult to perceive how the humanism in Americans can deal with the thought of dropping a bomb on so many innocent lives.
He writes “if this absolutely lethal bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, scientifically predictable hell will result. But the hell will not be so thoroughly disastrous as to wipe out, once and for all, all that is good in human society. That hell will not be so completely beyond the possibility of human recovery that all mankind will despise their humanity merely at the thought of it…” (289).
He continues to struggle in understanding how dropping an atomic bomb solves the controversies between the countries and almost wiping out Hiroshima is humanely conceivable. Similarly, Mo Tzu like Kenzaburo finds it hard how people can condemn killing others for the right of the country. Mo Tzu writes, if someone kills one man, he is condemned as unrighteous and must pay for his crime with his own life… if he kills a hundred men, he is a hundred times as unrighteous and should pay for his crime with a hundred lives” (254). In his writing, Against Offensive Warfare, Mo Tzu wrote with “analogies between war and individual acts of violence or theft” (253), to contribute in his argument in how people can justify their act on violence on others in war.
In contrast to Kenzaburo Oe and Mo Tzu, Sun Tzu In the Art of War, writes a form of guidelines for an army to follow. According to Sun Tzu, in the act of war an evaluation of the environment should be performed along with the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents. To be effective, strategies should be planned according to the evaluations. One of Sun Tzu’s guidelines states, “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill… To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill” (257). Sun Tzu believes more in defeating the opponent skillfully with their minds rather than with physical action.
Besides articles on war and peace, paintings from famous artist also arose. One of the two that are found in the text book is Eugene Delacroix. His paintings can see the beauty in paintings with the use of his passion and imagination. The painting that ties to war and peace is what Eugene Delacroix titles, Liberty Leading the People. This painting portrays an almost nude lady who is passing through a battlefield wearing a “Phrygian cap (a hat traditionally associated with liberty in both classical times and during the French Revolution), carrying a musket in one hand and a French flag in the other” (268). The painting was created in celebration of the 1830 Revolution. Equally important, is Pablo Picasso who had a “new artistic style called aubism theory to be called cubism… object must be seen from multiple perspectives, front view, side view, back view all shown at once as part of the same image”(271). The famous painting known as Guernica depicts a form of abstract that reveals the horrible destruction Hitler. Both paintings artistically express the theories of these two gentlemen on what war and peace meant to them.
Next of the philosophers is Margaret Mead and her article, Warfare: An Invention not a Biological Necessity. She states “warfare, by which I mean organized conflict between two groups as groups in which each group puts an army (even if the army is only 15 pygmies) in the field to fight and kill, if possible, some of the members of the army of the other group – that warfare of this sort is an invention like any other of the inventions in the terms of which we order out lives, such as writing, marriage, cooking our food instead of eating it raw, trial by jury, or burial of the dead, and so on.” (275). Margaret Mead continues to suggest along with her statement, that the Eskimo people have no sense of warfare. If warfare was a natural instinct than all groups of people around the world would use warfare to better their civilization.
All in all, war has unfortunately yet to cease nor has the conflicting thoughts that go along with it. Furthermore, fighting and deaths still continue to occur and theories on whether or not it is necessary to play out the battle increase. With the war it is evident that peace in most cases does not follow and the urge to find other ways to strategically win over the opponent is always in demand. Especially from the innocent by standers and the family members of those who fight for their country.
Eugene Delacroix. “Liberty Leading the People.” Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Austin. New York: Norton, 2009. 268-269. Print Kenzaburo Oe. “The Unsurrendered People.” Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Austin. New York: Norton, 2009. 288-291. Print
Mo Tzu. “Against Offensive Warfare.” Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Austin. New York: Norton, 2009. 253-255. Print Margaret Mead. “Warfare: An Invention – Not a Biological Neccessity.” Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Austin. New York: Norton, 2009. 274-281. Print Pablo Picasso. “Guernica.” Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Austin. New York: Norton, 2009. 271-272. Print Sun Tzu. “The Art of War.” Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. 2nd ed. Ed. Michael Austin. New York: Norton, 2009. 256-259. Print