Faculty colloquium IX: Paul Schuurman
The faculty colloquia aim to cover the broad scope of Erasmus School of Philosophy (ESPhil), in analytic and continental philosophy as well as the history of philosophy. Speakers are free in their choice of the subject-matter of their talks, but are requested to present a talk accessible to all philosophers, students notably included. The title of this edition is: Gaming for Victory. Prussian-German Professional Wargames and the Leadership Concept of Mission Tactics 1870-1880.
About the speaker
Paul Schuurman is associate professor in the history of philosophy at Erasmus School of Philosophy.
He writes on:
* the influence of game-theoretical concepts on the grand strategy of the Dutch Republic (Pieter de la Court);
* the influence of theological concepts on the philosophy of war (François Fénelon);
* the importance of positive and negative feedback cycles for the explanation of the rise and fall of empires (Montesquieu);
* the concepts of ‘absolute war’ and ‘limited war’ versus ‘real war’ (Carl von Clausewitz);
* the role of historical counterfactuals in the analysis and evaluation of military decisions (Carl von Clausewitz);
* the delimma between realism and playability in Napoleonic war games as models of military reality;
* the evaluation of the functionality of warfare in the work of Immanuel Kant, Herbert Spencer and Ian Morris.
Paul Schuurman studied History, Business Administration and Philosophy. He obtained his doctorate at Keele University (United Kingdom) with a text edition of John Locke's “Of the Conduct of the Understanding”. He has also published on the epistemology, philosophy of science and logic of John Locke and René Descartes.
About the lecture
In my paper I will argue that the success of German professional wargames (Kriegsspiele) in the nineteenth and twentieth century can be understood in the context of the military leadership concept of mission tactics (Auftragstaktik); I will show how both mission tactics and wargames could build on earlier conceptual and institutional developments; and how mission tactics and wargames were stimulated by a technological revolution technological revolution in the field of fire-arms. I will conclude with some remarks about the ironic results of the paradoxical interaction between historical events and ideas.