Why War

Why War

Albert Einstein

Language: English

Pages: 31

ISBN: B003NZ932K

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"In 1932 Albert Einstein was contacted by the League of Nations, the international body that was the precursor of the UN. He was asked to invite someone -- he could choose anyone -- to reflect with him in a series of public letters on a pressing problem or question. The question Einstein selected was this: 'Is there any way of delivering humankind from the menace of war?' He was asking the question that many of us are asking today: 'How can we promote peace?'"

"He chose his interlocutor carefully. The physicist with unprecedented understanding of the structure and workings of the universe selected a thinker with unprecedented insight into the structure and workings of the human mind: Sigmund Freud. Freud readily agreed to participate in this conversation. He had just published Civilization and its Discontents, in which he had offered a complex analysis of the psychological difficulties of living together in community. Yet his response to Einstein's question about peace was surprisingly optimistic. Yes, he said, we are torn between a drive for Eros or connection, and a drive toward Death, Thanatos, or Aggression. And indeed, the eagerness to engage in war is an effect of the drive toward Aggression, which itself is always embedded in political, social, and economic contexts. But, he argued, one can bring Eros into play against Aggression: whatever leads us to share important concerns produces a sense of community. 'Anything that encourages the growth of emotional ties will operate against war.' Einstein's remarks were more political, more practical. Claiming 'no insight into the dark places of human will and feeling,' he spoke of Macht und Recht, power and right, or violence and law. He called for a world in which Recht would supersede Macht -- law would supersede violence. He urged that all countries, by international consent, agree to honor a legislative and judicial body that would settle every conflict. 'Each nation would undertake to abide by the orders issued by this legislative body, to invoke its decision in every dispute, to accept its judgments unreservedly.'"

The Einstein-Freud exchange was published in three languages under the title "Why War?" and was widely distributed throughout Western Europe 70 years ago. However, it was unfortunately banned in Germany. This edition of the correspondence was published by the CAT Publishing Company, with a preface written by James O. Lugo.

Despite the ebook image on this page, the text is in English and it is a good read.


















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