March 24, 2007

Sherman -- Stoic Warriors

Sherman, Nancy, Stoic Warriors - The Ancient Philosophy Behind the Military Mind, Oxford University Press, 2005. 242pp.

[posted in its entirety on]

Dr. Sherman, a Georgetown Univ. ethic professor, has written a detailed review of Greco-Roman Stoicism as it might be applied to the modern American military. In the course of reviewing the book, I look at a number of issues surrounding the suffering and sacrifice of soldiers, both in ancient times and in modern liberal democracies.

At over 14,000 words, this review is not a perfect fit with Albion's Seedlings in its subject matter, nonetheless it deals with military matters affecting the Anglosphere and some blog readers may find it interesting. Particularly helpful are the subsequent comments on posted by active or retired vets.

My review is structured to discuss the following questions:

1. Is an ancient philosophy worth resurrecting in modern times? An outline Dr. Sherman's argument, and her primary concerns.
2. Was an ancient philosophy useful in the past? Evaluate Stoicism in its original historical and military context.
3. Are the conditions for soldiers changed from the past? Review the childhood experiences of our modern military recruits that might affect their adult expectations and endurance under stress.
4. Do Americans share the same premises about warfare? Inspect the "civilianization" of war and warfare in America, and the West. How does the political divide reflect a cultural divide?
5. What will be the conditions of warfare in the next century? Review the scale of the peace-prosperity differential across the world, its likely durability, and the resulting implications for the nature and length of future war.
6. What is the future of moral philosophy? Will the cognitive sciences overtake philosophy in better explaining human experience and human emotion?
7. Can we fight any future war successfully under current constraints? Some Conclusions. Ask whether the traditional blind spots supporting military sacrifice (and military victory) in the past are permanently gone, and conclude with some personal thoughts on the restructuring that I think will be needed to fight wars in the future.

Posted by jmccormick at March 24, 2007 10:54 AM
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