"War itself requires no special motive but appears to be engrafted on human nature; it passes even for something noble, to which the love of glory impels men quite apart from any selfish urges. Thus among the American savages, just as much as among those of Europe during the age of chivalry, military valor is held to be of great worth in itself, not only during war (which is natural) but in order that there should be war. Often war is waged only in order to show valor; thus an inner dignity is ascribed to war itself, and even some philosophers have praised it as an ennoblement of humanity, forgetting the pronouncement of the Greek who said, "War is an evil inasmuch as it produces more wicked men than it takes away." So much for the measures nature takes to lead the human race, considered as a class of animals, to her own end."
by:
Immanuel Kant
(1724-1804) German philosopher
Source:
Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, 1795
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Reader comments about this quote:
This is not true of democracies. Of course you can't blame old man Kant for his error. He never saw a democracy. Free men go to war to protect and defend their lives, liberty, women, and children.
 -- Reb, Jerusalem     
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    War is waged because a tyrant is attacking or threatening his neighbors. Now the neighbor could be considered the entire world. True Kant, if I am not mistaken, was not familiar with liberty.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    Humans are a violent bunch. There are those that love war and keeping others 'down' -- we see it all the time with abusive policemen, military, prison guards, and tyrants -- they derive pleasure from it. Obviously this is something that the rest of us have to deal with and protect ourselves from -- that is the primary purpose of the Constitution -- to limit the power which may be exercised by 'authorities' because in the end, power corrupts and absolute power is awesome.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    War is also about Straight Up, Empire Building....like we see happening in the middle east today. Why isn't the cavalry showing up in Myanmar and the Sudan? Oh yeah! No Oil. And Kant has one part right... we are set on self destruct right now. Taking away our rights here at home is NOT how to preserve freedom. What a bunch of Bull THAT is...
     -- J Carlton, Calgary, Canada     
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    No oil means that the thugs there can't amass the wealth necessary to be a threat to the world. That in itself puts them down the list of problems that should be handled. It would be great if it was possible to solve every ones problems in this world but we are very fortunate if we can solve but a few that we cannot avoid- like the Middle East.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    i believe this quote speaks to the heart of a true American. in order to truly understand this quote you must speak from another point of view for life and only be justified as independence can be justified as outrageously radical
     -- Jennifer Thompson, Houston     
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    The most noble person must understand that the life and human worth of a person must be sacred, and if this right is violated then it should be punishable by law. But when the factor of war is brought into the mix of injustice and our arrogance, we cannot see past the hatred we all share as individual united people.
     -- Joe Dirt, New York     
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