Socrates strikes again.
The topic was the ethics of war, and of course if you ask a bunch of college students who think they know everything what war is, they can be sure to come up with a definition that starts off with “Two sides fighting each other” then ends up as “any kind of conflict between any number of people for any reason at any time anywhere.” But that didn’t stop us from staying surprisingly on track.
We talked about a variety of scenarios and whether attacking or engaging in a “preemptive strike” would be justified. One professor made the claim that during his lifetime (i.e. after the second world war) the US had not had just cause for any of its wars. I tried to come up with something and failed.
Another question was: when and why have different sides in wars fought according to mutually understood rules, such as not fighting on Christmas in the first World War, or refraining from harming the women and children of the enemy. I offered that nihilism had seeped into our consciousnesses and contributed to a decrease in the kind of honor men felt in fighting according to certain principles, but most seemed to agree that the types of weaponry used in wars became more advanced and therefore less likely to avoid harming innocent people (i.e. bombs and drones).
A major question was what to do about the impulse we (or I guess pretty much just men) have to engage in violence; the Dionysian impulse to competition that ends up in chaos when unrestrained. This was harder to come to a conclusion on, especially since a lot probably has to do with testosterone, and that I think I was alone in equating violent impulses with sexual drive.
At some point in the middle of it all, a friend of mine (who sometimes participates in these discussions but had decided not to come) showed up and dropped off snacks. I ate probably 7 cookies and then scored some pretzels.