The Meaning of the War

The Meaning of the War
Life & Matter in Conflict

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The Meaning of the War by Henri Bergson

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1915

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The Meaning of the War
Life & Matter in Conflict

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Book Excerpt

doctrine. Many persons have explained the aberrations of German policy as due to that theory. For my part, I see in it nothing more than a philosophy doomed to translate into ideas what was, in its essence, insatiable ambition and will perverted by pride. The doctrine is an effect rather than a cause; and should the day come when Germany, conscious of her moral humiliation, shall say, to excuse herself, that she had trusted herself too much to certain theories, that an error of judgment is not a crime, it will then be necessary to remind her that her philosophy was simply a translation into intellectual terms of her brutality, her appetites, and her vices. So, too, in most cases, doctrines are the means by which nations and individuals seek to explain what they are and what they do. Germany, having finally become a predatory nation, invokes Hegel as witness; just as a Germany enamoured of moral beauty would have declared herself faithful to Kant, just as a sentimental Germany would have found her tutelary gen

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