The First World War was an unprecedented event of destruction, transformation, and renewal that left no aspect of European culture unchanged. Philosophy proved no exception: the war motivated an historically singular mobilization of philosophers to write about the war during the years of conflict; significant works of philosophy were written during the war years and immediately thereafter; the postwar decades of the 1920s and 1930s witnessed a systematic reconfiguration of the landscape of philosophical thought that still largely defines contemporary philosophy. Surprisingly, while the impact of the war on literature, poetry, and the arts, political thought has been a subject of intense inquiry and interpretation, the significance of the war for modern philosophy remains relatively unexamined, often misunderstood or simply taken for granted.
This project aims at understanding the impact of the Great War on modern philosophy. It aims to chart an original course and establish a new standard for the philosophical study of the relation between the First World War and 20th-century philosophy through a comparative and critical approach to a diverse array of thinkers. Specifically, this project will investigate the hypothesis of whether diverse philosophical responses, direct and indirect, immediately or postponed, can be understood as formulations of different questions posed, or better: catalyzed by the war itself. This project will additionally argue that the very idea that war could reveal, challenge or legitimate cultural or philosophical meaning is itself a legacy of a distinctive kind of war-philosophy produced during the war.