This higly abstract course to my astonishment was based on the more general ideas from Kant`s “Über den ewigen Frieden” (On eternal peace) – but to my second astonishment was not detailing the contributions which started from Hugo Grotius`”De iure bellis ac pacis” (on law in war and peace), nor did it reflect in detail the series of the Haag-Conferences (1905, 1907) and their “output” of a large corpus of treateases, which were followed by socalled “Geneva Conventions” after World War II. Thematisized however was the socalled “theory of just war“, which however again was not detailed and only roughly referred to the contributions of St. Augustin and St. Thomas of Aquinas – not to speak of the strange fect, thqat I could not detect any reference to BUDDHIST teachings – and their parallels in Christian traditions – on “peace of mind” and related subjects.
Well, if not considered too much sideway, I may comment on the list of author`s names above like follows:
To put the entire course on a coursory treatment of KANT`s writing about “eternal peace”, which Kant himself saw connected with some “republicanian” constructions of state, which is some difference to today situation, resulting in the terrible consequence of DIFFICULTY of SOLUTION TRANSFER, is at first and without any explanation or argument given a DECISION – and if compared with St. Augustin and St. Thomas of Aqphinas and even Hugo Grotius VERY PROBABLY a SHAKY one! This shakyness may become even more problematical, if we take into account, that LOGICS and EPISTEMOLOGY since the days of Kant did not stop and in meantime have reached peaks of abstraction that most people would surprise, including, that we on TODAY LEVEL must not any longeer TOO MUCH be “concerned” about the “theorem of contradiction” (1st form: “tertium non datur”, 2md form: “ex falso quodlibet”). Okay here we perhaps would welcome a quotation from printed source:
Tugendhat, E. / Wolff, U.: Logisch semantische Propädeutik, Stuttgart: Reclam pbk 1986, revised ed. of 1983; Der Satz vom Widerspruch, p. 50-65
Now the philosophical objection may be:
It may be questionable, that the course-authors JUST DECIDED for KANT as starting point, but it would perhaps be similar questionable, if my list of author`s names from above is RESTRICTED TO EUROPEAN AUTHORS only?
If I may interject here: It’s to some extent inevitable to have DECISIONS, but we in a SCIENTIFIC surrounding would expect, that DECISIONS are based on ARGUMENTS and REASONING. We thus may say: It – perhaps – was PURE LUCK, that the course-staff picked an IMPORTANT source for mulling over, which latter however was NO REAL INDEPTH-ANALYSIS of KANT`s “on eternal peace”, which is surprising again, because especially this source has seen since centuries an intense analysis by writers and thinkers.
However: FOCUSSING on KANT may have resulted here in MISSING OTHER IMPORTANT fields of learning: You see, there MIGHT be a LOT to be learned from ANTIQUE GREEK WARFARE of which we are better informed than of SUMERIAN and EGYPTIAN warfare, where we have LESS number of sources.
And even worse: CAN WE ESPECIALLY IN THESE MODERN TIMES DISMISS THE following 2 CHINESE SOURCES and reflections for to conduct war “propperly”, which are
– the I-Ging (no joke here, this is a HIGLY MATHEMATICAL STRUCTURED book – hexagrams IDENTICAL with DNA-codetable – perhaps involving some OTHER BASIC PHYSICS than we today would apply!)
– SUN TSU “The art of strategy”in whatever good or poor translation and edition???
So my argument here is: We CAN – I am no special Obama-Fan! – and probably SHOULD GO BEYOND “just” KANT, to have a broader approach to problems at hand!
We may however concede and give in, that a discussion about contemporary theories derived from ideas on “TOTAL WAR” as brought forward for instance in NAZI-Germany AND ELSEWHERE, that eventually led to the formulation of a theory of “full scale dominance” and “unified battlefield with combined forces” as prevalent in US-think- tanks before SECOND Irak war, perhaps are too much near to our own times, to be seen as strictly “historical” yet. Therefor a Buike-thesis of TODAY PERMANENT WAR derived from a view on history of 20th century, may be considered not that relevant here at moment.
We thus may conclude, that this course had not exactly that content, that from my experience in studies and my geographical location in Europe was expected.
To be more precise, what I personally was expecting, I may introduce the following printed source of 1932 (!!!):
Porritt, Arthur (ed.): The Causes of War – Economic, Industrial, Racial, Religious, Scientific, And Political, London: Macmillan 1932
Now, if we interpret “causes” as something, that eventually may become “conditions” of war and peace, it perhaps is not overdone, to react with surprise, if we in this course only seldom saw this type of CLASSICAL DIFFERENTIAL FACTOR ANALYSIS, which says perhaps something about the TYPE OF LOGICS and the TYPE OF CONCEPTS OF SCIENCE, that may be UNSPOKEN at the basis of this course.
Secondly this “elder book”, which today certainly is not that important any longer, may teach us, to formulate QUESTIONS, that were MISSING in this course:
MISSING QUESTION 1: Is there some RACIAL DIFFERNTIAL FACTOR and CAUSE in the development of warfare especially in 19th and 20th century, targeted somehow to WHITE DOMINANCE? And if so, what about the German Emperor`s William II. statement in times of First World War about a “yellow danger”?
MISSING QUESTION 2: If warfare may be seen as a struggle for SCIENTIFIC PREFERENCE, would this mean, that we should research, WHICH TYPE OF SCIENCE may be more “useful” for to maintain “peace”? (This question however would need, to listen to TODAY HYPERPHYICS and ETHERPHYSICS, which is something quite different than just Einsteinian-type theories, and would lead to a complete SET OF WEAPONRY FOR MASS DESTRUCTION even in scale of PLANET-BURST. Nobody must believe anything in science without checking and please check for this implications the 10 -14 books of Joseph P. Farrell, which need CRITICAL reading of course.)
Such and similar question may have a terrible result, which may be put for the beginning like this: IF we can agree, that since SECOND IRAK WAR of 20th of March 2003 to 1st of May 2003 we all witnessed some sort of SHIFT IN PARADIGMA OF WAR on the scientific and technological level, how can we prevent our methods and theories becoming outworn and FALLING SHORT A SUFFICIENT CORRECT DESCRIPTION OF TODAY REALITY?
The course nonetheless was not a waste of time, because I for first time in my life saw “JAPANESE BRAIN WORKING” and TRYING , to build some sort of “regional or local certainty” in midst of an ocean of uncertainty, which would make every historian by profession very reluctant, to offer “final solution” or “unchangeable results”.
VERY FAR FROM THIS, the lecturer laid extraordenary EMPHASIS in his recurring statements, that LOTS of “discussions” would be expected to become “purely academical”, which means, WITH NO DESCRIPTIVE OR EXPLANATORY POWER BEYOND DOUBT. As I understood the arguments and even theses brought forward, there was some sort of standard CAVEAT, sounding something like: “IT SEEMS, AS IF …”, which in the end may mean everything or nothing.
Well, IT SEEMS, AS IF the MAIN theses of this course were:
– “democratic” states do not fight wars against each other (???)
– “somehow” it seems, as if the main focus was on “hegemonial” situations and hegemonial states NOT BEHAVING in hegemonial style, which may lead to a more recent reflection on POWER, as seen in between the dichotomy of “benevolential” and “non-benevolential” (which perhaps will make those being in power laugh only …)
Well, IF I have extracted these two theses from the course correctly, the immediately question would be, why no other details have impressed me enough, to be stored in memory !!??
Secondly I profited from the ESSAY WRITING and COMMENT-WRITING in the PEER-EVALUATION-PROCESS. This may be euphemism: If we analyse my scoring, this was between 80-100 % with regard to QUIZZES and QUESTIONS, meaning that I in essay-writing made much LESS scores, which can be seen from the TOTAL result of 77,6 % only, which means, that I just very short met the requirements of overall 75% to get a letter of accomplishment.
I may now go and interpret this STRANGE mathematics in my course – results as follows: These mathematics show, that I somehow did NOT MATCH the “TYPE OF THINKING” and the “TYPE OF SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENTATION” the COURSERA-STAFF EXPECTED. And not only that: If we take the coursera-staff action as some reflection of STATE OF ART in this field of study, this would mean, that I MISSED TO UNDERSTAND, WHAT IS THE CONTEMPORARY LEVEL IN REASEARCH on the subject at hand!
Now it seems, that the following simplification is in reach:
I AM WRONG or THEY ARE WRONG!
Question is: What can we learn from each other, if perhaps producing MISUNDERSTANDINGS only, misunderstandings coming from DIFFERENT CULTURAL BACKGROUND and CONTEXT and misunderstandings coming from DIFFERENT STUDY HISTORY and DIFFERENT APPROACHES?
We may however give in: Especially in the peer-evaluation-process were brought forward RATHER INTERESTING EXAMPLES from history of war, such as for instance
– the strange changements of EMPEROR ASHOKA in INDIA,
– the AKSUM-EMPIRE invasion into Southern Yemen somewhre between 200-500, which was discussed as an example of dominant state in ETHIOPIA trying not to act purely hegemonial,.
– there was brought up a discussion on MIANMAR or former BIRMA, of which I – frankly – nearly did know nothing.
Okay, what to make from this experiment in coursera?
Well, to sum it up little bit:
I had an EXPERIENCE, which seems to have been focussed on a TYPE OF SCIENCE, which is some sort of HUMAN INTERACTION – and FAR AWAY from such oldfashioned things like “pure wisdom” or “pure knowledge” or any “mandarin-style” science.
I perhaps may add: If we see people and institutions in COURSERA surroundings, this may be an indication, that they are TRYING TO BUILD REPUTATION AND INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION, which holds true for the universities involved and students like me myself with own publication lists already.
Glad to say, that my reputation is NOT DEPENDENT on COURSERA, but has been earned in a VERY HARD SELECTION PROCESS by great LIBRARIES of several European countries – and some libraries of special institutes!
Would I suggest, to implement this course in any department for history learning of any mayor military academy around the globe? My answer so far: NO recommendation !
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