War and Talk

This is a foray into the mystery of how things happen, based the 164th of the 361 chapters of War and Peace. This chapter contains, in a one-sentence paragraph, a summary of Tolstoy’s theory of history:

Each man lives for himself, using his freedom to attain his personal aims, and feels with his whole being that he can now do or abstain from doing this or that action; but as soon as he has done it, that action performed at a certain moment in time becomes irrevocable and belongs to history, in which it has not a free but a predestined significance.

This is the idea that I retained from my first reading of the novel, three decades ago. We do something, with what seems to be freedom, and as it recedes into the past, we feel more and more as if it had to happen. In my current reading of War and Peace (see the footnote), I have wondered when I would encounter the idea again, if I had remembered it correctly in the first place. I shall not now try to pass final verdict on the idea; after all, I am not quite halfway through the novel, in a reading that will last the calendar year. But Tolstoy rightly questions the notion of causation. Difficulties in the notion may run even deeper than he seems to let on. I shall try to say how, with the help of Plato and Collingwood.

Freedom has been a theme of this blog, as for example in the article called “Freedom,” and then in “Thales of Miletus.” Each article takes up the idea of Collingwood, expressed in The Principles of History, that the so-called “freedom” studied by history is actually the compulsion to face reality: this compulsion is freedom, because it is imposed on oneself, by oneself. The more rational you are, the more strictly you compel yourself. There may be other kinds of compulsions, but they are not the subject of history as such.

In the earlier articles, I quoted only part of the following paragraph from The Principles of History (dated February 23, 1939, in the manuscript):

The rational activity which historians have to study is never free from compulsion: the compulsion to face the facts of its own situation. The more rational it is, the more completely it undergoes this compulsion. To be rational is to think, and for a man who proposes to act, the thing that is important to think about is the situation in which he stands. With regard to this situation he is not free at all. It is what it is, and neither he nor anyone else can ever change that. For though the situation consists altogether of thoughts, his own and other people’s, it cannot be changed by a change of mind on the part of himself or anyone else. If minds change, as they do, this merely means that with the lapse of time a new situation has arisen. For a man about to act, the situation is his master, his oracle, his god. Whether his action is to prove successful or not depends on whether he grasps the situation rightly or not. If he is a wise man, it is not until he has consulted his oracle, done everything in his power to find out what the situation is, that he will make even the smallest plan. And if he neglects the situation, the situation will not neglect him. It is not one of those gods that leave an insult unpunished.

I have bolded the sentence with the key idea: an action is a deed judged successful, or not, by the very person doing it. History studies actions. Since such study is itself an action, history is a criteriological science, in the sense that Collingwood defines first (as far as I know) in a note at the end of Chapter VIII of The Principles of Art (whose Preface is dated September 22, 1937). In that note, the examples of criteriological sciences are logic and ethics; but any science of thought as such must be criteriological. Insofar as it tries to study thought only empirically, psychology is only a pseudo-science. This is explained in more detail in An Essay on Metaphysics (Preface dated April 2, 1939).

Without the terminology, Collingwood developed the idea of a criteriological science in An Essay on Philosophical Method (1933). I made a long quotation from that book in “Psychology,” an article relevant to the present one for bringing up another point, expressed in The Idea of History (a postumous publication based on lectures of 1936, revised in 1940). We have already allowed that an action may be a failure. Worse than that, what we do may hardly count as an action at all, because we do not really know what we are doing:

… the idea that every agent is wholly and directly responsible for everything that he does is a naïve idea which takes no account of certain important regions in moral experience … Looking back over our actions, or over any stretch of past history, we see that something has taken shape as the actions went on which certainly was not present to our minds, or to the mind of any one, when the actions which brought it into existence began …

I have taken these sentences from the longer quotation in “Psychology”; but let me now turn back to Tolstoy. In the chapter under review, he asks how it could happen that Napoleon invaded Russia on June 12 (Old Style), 1812.

What produced this extraordinary occurrence? What were its causes? The historians tell us with naive assurance that its causes were the wrongs inflicted on the Duke of Oldenburg, the nonobservance of the Continental System, the ambition of Napoleon, the firmness of Alexander, the mistakes of the diplomatists, and so on.

Consequently, it would only have been necessary for Metternich, Rumyantsev, or Talleyrand, between a levee and an evening party, to have taken proper pains and written a more adroit note, or for Napoleon to have written to Alexander: “Monsieur, mon frère, je consens à rendre le duché au duc d’Oldenbourg”—and there would have been no war.

We can understand that the matter seemed like that to contemporaries. It naturally seemed to Napoleon that the war was caused by England’s intrigues (as in fact he said on the island of St. Helena). It naturally seemed to members of the English Parliament that the cause of the war was Napoleon’s ambition; to the Duke of Oldenburg, that the cause of the war was the violence done to him; to businessmen that the cause of the war was the Continental System which was ruining Europe; to the generals and old soldiers that the chief reason for the war was the necessity of giving them employment; to the legitimists of that day that it was the need of re-establishing les bons principes, and to the diplomatists of that time that it all resulted from the fact that the alliance between Russia and Austria in 1809 had not been sufficiently well concealed from Napoleon, and from the awkward wording of Memorandum No. 178. It is natural that these and a countless and infinite quantity of other reasons, the number depending on the endless diversity of points of view, presented themselves to the men of that day; but to us, to posterity who view the thing that happened in all its magnitude and perceive its plain and terrible meaning, these causes seem insufficient. To us it is incomprehensible that millions of Christian men killed and tortured each other either because Napoleon was ambitious or Alexander was firm, or because England’s policy was astute or the Duke of Oldenburg wronged. We cannot grasp what connection such circumstances have with the actual fact of slaughter and violence: why because the Duke was wronged, thousands of men from the other side of Europe killed and ruined the people of Smolensk and Moscow and were killed by them.

Tolstoy’s words seem quite sensible. It is natural, at least, that everybody will see the cause of the war from his or her point of view. I say his or her point of view, though Tolstoy here does not seem to suggest the point of view of anybody who happens to be a woman. Tolstoy did however open the whole grand novel with the words of a female character, Anna Pavlovna Scherer, who welcomed the first guest at her reception in 1805 with words in French condemning Napoleon, whom she considered the Antichrist.

Is Tolstoy right that we cannot understand how any of the proposed causes can account for the horror of a war? We sometimes think we can understand. Perhaps this happens only when we forgot what war is all about. Thus in my recent article on Book III of the Iliad, I could say, “The war is being fought because Paris, also called Alexander, has run off with Helen, the wife of the man he was visiting.” I can say this blithely about a war that happened three thousand years ago and has become a myth.

More recent wars are debated more contentiously. It so happens that I was born in Richmond, Virginia, the capital of what had been the Confederate States of America, a confederacy in rebellion against its proper government. I grew up in Alexandria, in Northern Virginia. Today I usually say I am from Washington, seat of the federal government of the United States, across the Potomac River. I went to school there, from the fourth grade on; but before that, I attended my neighborhood public school, named for a Virginian anti-federalist, George Mason. I somehow became aware of Southern patriotism, and I tried adopting it for myself. At my private school in DC, you could write in your textbooks, because your parents had bought them. I was pleased to do this, and in the fourth-grade American history book, I drew a Confederate flag. This was the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia that is displayed today to annoy other people. I like to think I remember drawing the flag, precisely because I knew I should be ashamed to do so. At the end of the school year, we boys were asked to donate our books to the school, because they had gone out of print, but the teachers still wanted to use them. I wondered what would be thought by the boy who used my book next year.

Alexandria hosted some monuments to the American Confederacy. At a busy intersection, there was a statue of a Confederate soldier, facing south. Though such monuments are nominally memorials, they represent a kind of historical amnesia: a failure of memory, a failure that lets one imagine that something in war deserves glorification.

As a graduate student on the other side of Washington, in College Park, Maryland, I once came upon a group of fellow students, arguing about the cause of the Civil War. These were all students of mathematics, but for some reason they were arguing about the war. A young woman from deeper in the south than Maryland was insisting that the cause of the war had been economic. Protectionist trade policies beneficial to Northern textile mills had been harmful to Southern cotton plantations. I could only recall a statement made by Southerners themselves, that war was brought on by the North’s failure to respect the Southerners’ right to own slaves.

I remembered reading this somewhere. However, my memory of this remembering seems to have included a failure. I thought I must have read the Southern statement in Heffner’s Documentary History of the United States. This had been one of the assigned texts for a high-school history course, and it was a text that my classmates and I had recognized as giving excellent summaries of the events that we were supposed to learn. Now that I check, I see that Heffner’s book provides no original Southern justification for the war.

One can have silly debates over who started it, only by forgetting what it really meant. The Southern statement could also have been in another text of our high school course: John M. Blum et al., The National Experience. I checked and noted that the chapter on the Civil War begins with a photograph labelled as “Confederate dead at Antietam.”

Antietam, Md. Confederate dead by a fence on the Hagerstown road. Photograph from the main eastern theater of the war, Battle of Antietam, September-October 1862.
By Alexander Gardner. From the Library of Congress’s American Memory collection; Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia.

Seeing the dead bodies, you can start looking for somebody to blame; but perhaps you can do this only by putting aside mere sorrow for the wasted lives.

I have bicycled past the Antietam Battlefield on fair summer days, free as a bird on my bicycle, equipped for camping out along the Potomac River.

The photographer, Alexander Gardner, appears to be an interesting person. Scottish, he came to the United States in order to build a socialist commune. Had I known about this, I might have mentioned him in my article “Community,” when I suggested that the conservative Christian writer Rod Dreher ought to appreciate the liberality of America. There, he can freely change his allegiance from one authoritarian church to another; there, he can realistically propose a communal lifestyle intended (unrealistically) to revive, among its adherents, the supposed values of the Middle Ages.

I have a lot more to say about Tolstoy’s ideas. If one is bewildered by all of the different explanations on offer for why things happen, then one may be well advised to remember the Stoic recommendation of concerning oneself only with what is under one’s control. This is a theme of Brian E. Denton’s essays on War and Peace. It is also what Collingwood urges in An Essay on Metaphysics, in the part on causation that is offered as an example of how to do metaphysics properly. A cause is something that is under our control. Different persons can recognize different causes for the same occurrence, and they can all be right. They can all be wrong, too, if they are trying to deny their own responsibility by blaming factors outside their control. Here is how Collingwood puts it, in words that seem an echo of Tolstoy’s, though they concern a less grand affair:

For example, a car skids while cornering at a certain point, strikes the kerb, and turns turtle. From the car-driver’s point of view the cause of the accident was cornering too fast, and the lesson is that one must drive more carefully. From the county surveyor’s point of view the cause was a defect in the surface or camber of the road, and the lesson is that greater care must be taken to make roads skid-proof. From the motor-manufacturer’s point of view the cause was defective design in the car, and the lesson is that one must place the centre of gravity lower.

If the three parties concerned take these three lessons respectively to heart accidents will become rarer. A knowledge of the causes of accidents will be gained in such a sense that knowledge is power … knowledge of the cause of a thing we wish to prevent is (not merely brings, but is) knowledge how to prevent it …

As in medicine, therefore, so in the study of ‘accidents’ the use of the word [“cause”] in any other sense, or its use by some one who fails to grasp the implications of this sense, leads to confusion. If the driver, the surveyor, and the manufacturer agreed in thinking they knew the cause of the accident I have described, but differed as to what it was, and if each thought that it was a thing one of the others could produce or prevent, but not himself, the result would be that none of them would do anything towards preventing such accidents in future, and their so-called knowledge of the cause of such accidents would be a ‘knowledge’ that was not, and did not even bring, power … Hence the folly of blaming other people in respect of an event in which we and they are together involved. Every one knows that such blame is foolish; but without such an analysis of the idea of causation as I am here giving it is not easy to say why.

I only wish everyone knew such blame was foolish! At least Tolstoy knows it is foolish, and he expects his readers to know, when he says, as above,

It naturally seemed to Napoleon that the war was caused by England’s intrigues (as in fact he said on the island of St. Helena). It naturally seemed to members of the English Parliament that the cause of the war was Napoleon’s ambition.

Collingwood’s analysis of causation is based on the history of the term, which can be traced in the Oxford English Dictionary. The word causa is Latin, but the corresponding Greek term is ἀιτία. This word appears in English as the first component of “aetiology.” Technically, what Collingwood offers in Part IIIC of An Essay on Metaphysics is an aetiology, an account of causation; but my sense is that the word is used mainly in medicine. This would correspond to an observation that I happened to notice recently in Poetry and Mathematics (1962) by Scott Buchanan, who instituted the New Program at St John’s College in 1937. In “The Tradition of Western Philosophy,” I saw a similarity in the approaches to this tradition by Collingwood at Oxford and by Buchanan and Stringfellow Barr at Annapolis. Buchanan had studied philosophy at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, and I suppose he could have met Collingwood thus. The following is from the chapter “Proportions” of Poetry and Mathematics:

What we call reason was often referred to by the Greeks as λόγος and by the Romans as ratio. We refresh our classical memory by associating “logical” and “rational” in English. Lying back of these words are distinct but related Weltanshauungen. The search for the meaning of logos among the Greeks led to a scientific and speculative habit of mind ending in scientific observation and speculative thought. The following of reason among the Romans led to the ethical and religious theory under which we still live. Logos is still commemorated in the names of most of our sciences; ratio goes with our popular and practical argumentation. We rationalize.

Causation is originally an ethical concept. Socrates tried to keep it that way, by the account of Plato in the Phaedo (96 a–99 b). Socrates thought the cause of his death sentence was that everybody, himself included, thought it was for the best. A naturalistic, “scientific,” Anaxagorean account of the death sentence is not possible:

When I [Socrates] was young, Cebes, I was tremendously eager for the kind of wisdom which they call investigation of nature. I thought it was a glorious thing to know the causes of everything, why each thing comes into being and why it perishes and why it exists …

Then one day I heard a man reading from a book, as he said, by Anaxagoras, that it is the mind that arranges and causes all things. I was pleased with this theory of cause, and it seemed to me to be somehow right that the mind should be the cause of all things, and I thought, “If this is so, the mind in arranging things arranges everything and establishes each thing as it is best for it to be. So if anyone wishes to find the cause of the generation or destruction or existence of a particular thing, he must find out what sort of existence, or passive state of any kind, or activity is best for it. And therefore in respect to that particular thing, and other things too, a man need examine nothing but what is best and most excellent; for then he will necessarily know also what is inferior, since the science of both is the same.” …

My glorious hope, my friend, was quickly snatched away from me. As I went on with my reading I saw that the man made no use of intelligence, and did not assign any real causes for the ordering of things, but mentioned as causes air and ether and water and many other absurdities. And it seemed to me it was very much as if one should say that Socrates does with intelligence whatever he does, and then, in trying to give the causes of the particular thing I do, should say first that I am now sitting here because my body is composed of bones and sinews, and the bones are hard and have joints which divide them and the sinews can be contracted and relaxed and, with the flesh and the skin which contains them all, are laid about the bones; and so, as the bones are hung loose in their ligaments, the sinews, by relaxing and contracting, make me able to bend my limbs now, and that is the cause of my sitting here with my legs bent. Or as if in the same way he should give voice and air and hearing and countless other things of the sort as causes for our talking with each other, and should fail to mention the real causes, which are, that the Athenians decided that it was best to condemn me, and therefore I have decided that it was best for me to sit here and that it is right for me to stay and undergo whatever penalty they order. For, by the Dog, I fancy these bones and sinews of mine would have been in Megara or Boeotia long ago, carried thither by an opinion of what was best, if I did not think it was better and nobler to endure any penalty the city may inflict rather than to escape and run away. But it is most absurd to call things of that sort causes. If anyone were to say that I could not have done what I thought proper if I had not bones and sinews and other things that I have, he would be right. But to say that those things are the cause of my doing what I do, and that I act with intelligence but not from the choice of what is best, would be an extremely careless way of talking. Whoever talks in that way is unable to make a distinction and to see that in reality a cause is one thing, and the thing without which the cause could never be a cause is quite another thing …

Anaxagoras seems to have won out. Let me note that favorable remarks about Anaxagoras by Freya Stark are considered in my Thales article. But I have lifted the quotation of Plato from my 2007 account of a logic conference in Greece, where Plato was treated as a mine for doctrines that could be treated as mathematics and expressed symbolically. I am now taking Anaxagoras as a symbol for this foolishness: it is so-called analytic philosophy, and Collingwood may be little read today, precisely because he failed to join the analytical bandwagon. He also bristled at being called an Idealist; but he was sympathetic to the Idealists, as he describes in An Autobiography (October 2, 1938). By the account of Stephen Trombley in Fifty Thinkers Who Shaped the Modern World (London: Atlantic Books, 2012),

The early analytic philosophers’ war on British idealism can be seen to involve much more than the desire to supplant neo-Hegelian idealism and metaphysics in its entirety with logicism: they also wanted the idealists’ jobs. The analytic side won both battles. The professionalization of philosophy in Britain and the United States resulted in the death of idealism and the erection of analytic philosophy as the official way of thinking …

Collingwood is not one of Trombley’s Fifty Thinkers. Neither is T. H. Green; but F. H. Bradley is, and in the chapter on him, before the passage just quoted, Green is discussed as an influence on Bradley and others and as “the first professional philosopher in the English-speaking world” (the idea is attributed to Henry Sidgwick, 1838–1900).

Aristotle’s account of causation is found not in the Ethics, but in the Physics (Book Β, Chapter 3), here in the translation of Hippocrates Apostle:

In one sense, a “cause” means (1) that from which, as a constituent, something is generated; for example, the bronze is a cause of the statue, and the silver, of the cup, and the genera of these [are also causes].

In another, it means (2) the form or the pattern, this being the formula of the essence, and also the genera of this; for example, in the case of the octave, the ratio 2:1, and, in general, a number and the parts in the formula.

In another, it means (3) that from which change or coming to rest first begins; for example, the adviser is a cause, and the father is the cause of the baby, and, in general, that which acts is a cause of that which is acted upon, and that which brings about a change is a cause of that which is being changed.

Finally, it means (4) the end, and this is the final cause [that for the sake of which]; for example, walking is for the sake of health. Why does he walk? We answer, “In order to be healthy”; and having spoken thus, we think that we have given the cause …

Cause is this treated as something objective or scientific, even if it may involve the notion of purpose. If one wants to speak briefly, the causes are respectively (1) material, (2) formal, (3) efficient, and (4) final. Aristotle provides another summary in Chapter 7, useful to us for its examples of war; but now the order is apparently 2, 3, 4, 1:

It is clear, then, that there are causes and that there are as many [in kind] as we have stated; for the why of things includes just so many [in kind]. For the why in is referred either (a) ultimately to the whatness in the case of what is immovable, as in mathematics (for it is ultimately referred to the definition of the straight line or of commensurability or of something else), or (b) to the first mover—for example: Why did they declare war? Because they were raided—or (c) to a final cause: [in declaring war] for the sake of ruling the enemy, or (d) to matter, as in things generated. Evidently, then, the causes are those stated and are as many in number.

Since the causes are four, it is the task of the physicist to understand all of them …

The brackets here are Apostle’s; the correction of “in” to “is,” mine. Again, causes for Aristotle are something objective, in the sense that they are supposed to be universally recognized, rather than to be peculiar to each agent.

In a society, through courts of law, we try to reach universal agreement on whom to blame when things go wrong among us. This attempt breaks down when applied to the wider world. Tolstoy recognizes this; and again Tolstoy’s words seem reflected in Collingwood’s, now in his first book, Religion and Philosophy. Collingwood here does not treat the horror of war, though a war is going on as he writes, a war that in An Autobiography he will describe as “an unprecedented triumph for natural science,” though “an unprecedented disgrace to the human intellect”:

Whether it was deliberately plotted by a ring of German war-lords, as some believed, or by a ring of English trade-lords, as others believed, nobody has ever supposed that any except at most the tiniest fraction of the combatants wanted it. It happened because a situation got out of hand. As it went on, the situation got more and more out of hand. When the peace treaty was signed, it was more out of hand than ever. Fighting ended because one side was fought to a standstill, not because the situation was under control again.

Thus An Autobiography. In Religion and Philosophy of 1916, Collingwood addresses the scientific notion of causation as follows.

If we search for the particular cause of a given particular effect, we shall find this cause to be invariably complex, even when it is often described as simple. Thus, the gale last night blew down a tree in the garden. But it would not have done so except for many other circumstances. We must take into account the strength of the tree’s roots, its own weight, the direction of the wind, and so on. If some one asks, “why did the tree fall?” we cannot give as the right and sufficient answer, “because of the wind.” We might equally well give a whole series of other answers: “because the wind was in the north-west”; “because the tree had its leaves on”; “because I had not propped it”; and so on. Each of these answers is a real answer to the question, but none of them is the only answer or the most right answer. No one of them can claim to give the cause in a sense in which the others do not give the cause. Is there then, we may ask, such a thing as the cause at all? is there not simply a number of causes? No, there does seem to be one cause and no more; but that cause is not one simple event but a large, indeed an infinitely large, number of events and conditions all converging to the one result.

If we really wish to know the whole truth when we ask for the cause of an event, then, it seems that we shall have to enumerate all the conditions present in the world at the time; for we cannot assume any of them to be irrelevant. The only real cause seems to be a total state of the universe.

Further, if the whole present state of the universe causes the fall of the tree, it also for the same reason causes everything else that happens at the same time. That is to say, the cause of the fall of my tree is also the cause of an earthquake in Japan and a fine day in British Columbia.

Ultimately, since there is nothing outside the universe, the universe can only cause itself, even though “The first law of matter is that it cannot originate states in itself.” Thus the materialistic account of causation breaks down.

War has been a title theme of a few of my articles, such as “Life in Wartime,” written after a terror bombing here in Istanbul, a couple of weeks before last summer’s coup attempt. On Twitter yesterday morning (Saturday, June 17, 2017), I saw that the American consulate in Istanbul had issued a warning of a terror threat, right here in my neighborhood of Şişli-Mecidiyeköy, near Trump Towers. This bothers me only enough to mention it here. Meanwhile, we are having beautiful late-spring weather in the Goldilocks range, the semester is over, and I can do as I please, even more than usual. I am content, and this is a mystery.

If past events for Tolstoy seem predestined, for Collingwood I think they must not be, even if causes must be considered as things that we can effect. The past cannot be changed; however, our way to understand the past, historically, is to reenact it in our minds. We should consider now whether this is what Tolstoy is doing.

Note. The 164th chapter of Tolstoy’s War and Peace is the first of Part One of Book Three, in the 2010 edition that I am reading now, with the translation of Louise and Aylmer Maude, edited by Amy Mandelker, in Oxford World’s Classics. The chapter is counted as the first of Part Nine, in the Modern Library edition of Constance Garnett’s translation, which is what I read, thirty years ago.

Many things can be said to have come together, so that I am reading Tolstoy now. That first reading was in the summer of 1986, in preparation for the first seminars of my senior year at St John’s College. In the following summer, as a new alumnus, in my enthusiasm for the St John’s Program, I started reading War and Peace again; however, in my memory of the previous summer’s reading, I had retained the pleasures, and not any of the tedium. In 1987, I got bored at some point, and I left off reading. Thirty years later, reading War and Peace a chapter a day seems an excellent plan—I say now, almost halfway through such a plan. Reading with others—what I had done at St John’s—is also excellent. One of the other readers currently is my wife. Another is Brian E. Denton, known to me as the person who is writing daily about War and Peace on Medium, thus providing motivation to read along with him. It is somehow thanks to Ayşe that I found out about Mr Denton’s project of reading War and Peace through the calendar year of 2017. I came to Turkey to be with Ayşe. This helped me pay attention to Elif Batuman, when I encountered her (first in Harper’s, perhaps) as an American writer with Turkish parents. On Twitter on February 2, Ms Batuman tweeted about Mr Denton’s reading project. This drew me in.

The quotations above from War and Peace are cut and pasted from the Wikisource edition of the Maude translation, where apparently what are Parts (differently numbered) in the Oxford World’s Classics and Modern Library editions are called Books and are numbered sequentially. We are thus in Book Nine. I have followed Amy Mandelker’s practice of replacing the Maudes’ translations of Tolstoy’s French passages with the originals. Thus the first italicized French passage was given by the Maudes as, “My respected Brother, I consent to restore the duchy to the Duke of Oldenburg.” The second italicized French passage was apparently already given in French by the Maudes and is not italicized in Wikisource.


The books listed here are from my own shelves, though two of them—Collingwood’s Religion and Philosophy and Essay on Philosophical Method—sit there only as coil-bound printouts of pdf files found on the Web Archive and Library Genesis respectively.

  1. Aristotle. Physics. Translated by Hippocrates Apostle. Grinnell, Iowa: Peripatetic Press, 1980.
  2. —. Nichomachean Ethics. Translated and edited by Roger Crisp. Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  3. John M. Blum and others. The National Experience. Part One: A History of the United States to 1877. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981.
  4. Scott Buchanan. Poetry and Mathematics. University of Chicago Press. Midway Reprint. 1929/1962/1975.
  5. R. G. Collingwood. Religion and Philosophy. London: Macmillan and Co., 1916.
  6. —. An Essay on Philosophical Method. With an Introduction and additional material edited by James Connelly and Giuseppina D’Oro. Oxford, 1933/2005.
  7. —. The Principles of Art. Oxford, 1938/1958.
  8. —. An Autobiography. Oxford, 1939.
  9. —. An Essay on Metaphysics. With an Introduction and additional material edited by Rex Martin. Oxford, 1940/1998.
  10. —. The Idea of History. Edited with an introduction by Jan van der Dussen. Oxford, 1946/1994.
  11. —. The Principles of History and other writings in philosophy of history. Edited and with an introduction by W. H. Dray and W. J. van der Dussen. Oxford, 1999.
  12. Richard D. Heffner. A Documentary History of the United States. Expanded and Updated Bicentennial Edition. New York: New American Library, 1976.
  13. Homer. Chapman’s Homer: The Iliad. Edited, with Introduction and Glossary, by Allardyce Nicoll. With a new Preface by Garry Wills. Bollingen Series XLI. Princeton University Press, 1956/98.
  14. James A. H. Murray and others. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Complete text reproduced micrographically. Two volumes. 1884–1928/1971.
  15. Plato. Phaedo. In Plato I: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, with an English translation by Harold North Fowler and an Introduction by W. R. M. Lamb. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1914/82.
  16. Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace. A Novel by Count Leo Tolstoy. Translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett. New York: The Modern Library, no date.
  17. —. War and Peace. Translated with Notes by Louise and Aylmer Maude. Revised and Edited with an Introduction by Amy Manderker. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford, 2010.
  18. Stephen Trombley. Fifty Thinkers Who Shaped the Modern World. London: Atlantic Books, 2012.

11 Trackbacks

  1. By Hypomnesis « Polytropy on July 30, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    […] « War and Talk […]

  2. By What It Takes « Polytropy on May 26, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    […] War then is a nineteenth-century instance of reactionary anti-metaphysics; I looked at it in “War and Talk,” which is an essay on causation, or a “foray into the mystery of how things […]

  3. […] spent the calendar year of 2017 reading War and Peace at a chapter a day with Brian E. Denton and others. Call it a way to stop and smell the roses, but […]

  4. By On Causation « Polytropy on August 20, 2019 at 5:10 am

    […] would refer the interested reader also to other essays in my Causation category, especially “War and Talk,” which takes up Tolstoy, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as Collingwood. One may also read […]

  5. By On Being Given to Know « Polytropy on August 24, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    […] fantasize. My last article here, “On Causation,” referred to an earlier article, “War and Talk,” which discussed (among other things) Aristotle’s four causes. In writing that […]

  6. By On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book V « Polytropy on September 23, 2019 at 7:11 am

    […] V of the Iliad is long and rich, with as many characters as War and Peace, and stories within stories. The main story is of Tydeus’s son Diomedes, who with […]

  7. By Happiness « Polytropy on October 16, 2019 at 6:25 am

    […] be the cause of the accident, to the designer. [Collingwood’s own words are quoted in “War and Talk.”] Of course one can quibble and say that the driver can also demand the appropriate changes […]

  8. By Reading shallow and deep « Polytropy on April 21, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    […] is not a reason to take up a big book; pleasure is. I had the pleasure of reading War and Peace, a chapter a day, for all but four days of 2017. I was one of a number who read along with Brian […]

  9. By On Reading Plato’s Republic « Polytropy on December 28, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    […] quoted the scene at length (it is 96a–9b) in “War and Talk.” Bolotin does not seem to mention it, except perhaps allusively, as when he […]

  10. By Mind (Iliad Book XVII) « Polytropy on March 24, 2023 at 3:00 am

    […] use of it, at least by the account of Socrates in the Phaedo. (I looked at this especially in “War and Talk,” based on a chapter of War and […]

  11. By Grief (Iliad Book XXII) « Polytropy on April 27, 2023 at 6:54 pm

    […] was in the Phaedo, in the longer passage that I quoted in “War and Talk.” The words of Socrates that interest me now are in Book X of the Republic (604 b–c), where […]

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