Echevarria II, A. (2021). Herman Kahn and Escalation. In War’s Logic: Strategic Thought and the American Way of War (Cambridge Military Histories, pp. 93-110). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316135730.008
Chapter 5 analyzes the thinking of Herman Kahn, who dared to think the unthinkable. It describes his “America,” which again was that of the golden age of the middle class, but which also overlapped with the sense of malaise that plagued the 1970s. Like the limited war theorists, Kahn agreed military instincts needed to be curbed, and he attempted to counter uncertainty by arguing, largely in vain, that escalation itself was also a bargaining process with systematic waystations or steps embedded along its path. This chapter discusses his model of war’s nature, which, like those of Brodie, Osgood, and Schelling, priviledged war’s political dimension, though he gave policy more agency than did they.
Under Operation Paperclip, which began in May 1945, the scientists who had helped the Third Reich wage war continued their weapons engineering work for the US government, developing missiles, chemical and biological weapons, aerospace medicine (to enhance the performance of military pilots and astronauts) and many other armaments at a feverish and paranoid pace that marked the Cold War. The age of weapons of mass destruction had dawned, and with it came the treacherous concept of “brinkmanship” – the art of pursuing a dangerous policy to the limits of safety before stopping.
The atrocities that followed Hitler’s Final Solution were unfathomable to the rest of the world. Nazi technicians had decided to melt down the gold teeth in their prisoners’ fillings, but thought it easier to kill the victims first for easy access to the jaw.
Ice baths were filled with ice-cold water and a prisoner placed naked in them to find out how long an air force pilot could withstand ice-cold water in a crash. In the notes on this experiment, the Nazi doctors used the term “adult pig” in reference to a human test subject.
The doctors routinely subjected the prisoners to operations without anaesthesia. One man had part of his liver removed in this way, and a young woman had her shin bones removed.
In other experiments, limbs were severed and sewn back on at a different angle.
The US military intelligence knew all of this, yet carefully manoeuvred their Paperclip Doctors out of prosecution at Nuremberg and into America to begin work. This caused some outrage in the international media. Albert Einstein denounced Operation Paperclip in a letter to President Truman.
We hold these individuals to be potentially dangerour. Their former eminence as Nazi Party members and supporters raised the issue of their fitness to become American citizens and hold key positions in American industrial, scientific, and educational institutions.
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”
~Thomas Paine, Common Sense
“Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.”
~Thomas Paine, Common Sense
“Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise.”
~Thomas Paine, Common Sense
In philosophy, praxeology or praxiology (/ˌpræksiˈɒlədʒi/; from Ancient Greek πρᾶξις (praxis) ‘deed, action’, and -λογία (-logia) ‘study of’) is the theory of human action, based on the notion that humans engage in purposeful behavior, contrary to reflexive behavior and other unintentional behavior.
French social philosopher Alfred Espinas gave the term its modern meaning, and praxeology was developed independently by two principal groups: the Austrian school, led by Ludwig von Mises, and the Polish school, led by Tadeusz Kotarbiński.
Origin and etymology
Coinage of the word praxeology (praxéologie) is often credited to Louis Bourdeau, the French author of a classification of the sciences, which he published in his Théorie des sciences: Plan de Science intégrale in 1882:
On account of their dual natures of specialty and generality, these functions should be the subject of a separate science. Some of its parts have been studied for a long time, because this kind of research, in which man could be the main subject, has always presented the greatest interest. Physiology, hygiene, medicine, psychology, animal history, human history, political economy, morality, etc. represent fragments of a science that we would like to establish, but as fragments scattered and uncoordinated have remained until now only parts of particular sciences. They should be joined together and made whole in order to highlight the order of the whole and its unity. Now you have a science, so far unnamed, which we propose to call Praxeology (from πραξις, action), or by referring to the influence of the environment, Mesology (from μεσος, environment).
However, the term was used at least once previously (with a slight spelling difference), in 1608, by Clemens Timpler in his Philosophiae practicae systema methodicum:
There was Aretology: Following that Praxiology: which is the second part of the Ethics, in general, commenting on the actions of the moral virtues.
It was later mentioned by Robert Flint in 1904 in a review of Bourdeau’s Théorie des sciences.
The modern definition of the word was first given by Alfred V. Espinas (1844–1922), the French philosopher and sociologist; he was the forerunner of the Polish school of the science of efficient action. The Austrian school of economics was based on a philosophical science of the same kind.
With a different spelling, the word was used by the English psychologist Charles Arthur Mercier (in 1911), and proposed by Knight Dunlap to John B. Watson as a better name for his behaviorism. Watson rejected it. But the Chinese physiologist of behavior, Zing-Yang Kuo (b. 1898) adopted the term in 1935. It was also used by William McDougall (in 1928 and later).
Previously the word praxiology, with the meaning Espinas gave to it, was used by Tadeusz Kotarbiński (in 1923). Several economists, such as the Ukrainian, Eugene Slutsky (1926) used it in his attempt to base economics on a theory of action. It was also used by Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1933), Russian Marxist Nikolai Bukharin (1888–1938) during the Second International Congress of History of Science and Technology in London (in 1931), and Polish scholar Oscar Lange (1904–1965) in 1959, and later.
The Italian philosopher, Carmelo Ottaviano, was using the Italianised version, prassiologia, in his treatises starting from 1935, but in his own way, as a theory of politics. After the Second World War the use of the term praxeology spread widely. After the emigration of Mises to the US his pupil Murray Rothbard defended the praxeological approach. A revival of Espinas’s approach in France was revealed in the works of Pierre Massé (1946), the eminent cybernetician, Georges Théodule Guilbaud (1953), the Belgian logician, Leo Apostel (1957), the cybernetician, Anatol Rapoport (1962), Henry Pierron, psychologist and lexicographer (1957), François Perroux, economist (1957), the social psychologist, Robert Daval (1963), the well-known sociologist, Raymond Aron (1963) and the methodologists, Abraham Antoine Moles and Roland Caude (1965).
Under the influence of Tadeusz Kotarbiński, praxeology flourished in Poland. A special “Centre of Praxeology” (Zaklad Prakseologiczny) was created under the organizational guidance of the Polish Academy of Sciences, with its own periodical (from 1962), called at first Materiały Prakseologiczne (Praxeological Papers), and then abbreviated to Prakseologia. It published hundreds of papers by different authors, and the materials for a special vocabulary edited by Professor Tadeusz Pszczolowski, the leading praxeologist of the younger generation. A sweeping survey of the praxeological approach is to be found in the paper by the French statistician Micheline Petruszewycz, “A propos de la praxéologie”.
Ludwig von Mises was influenced by several theories in forming his work on praxeology, including Immanuel Kant’s works, Max Weber’s work on methodological individualism, and Carl Menger’s development of the subjective theory of value.
Philosopher of science Mario Bunge published works of systematic philosophy that included contributions to praxeology, and Bunge dismissed von Mises’s version of praxeology as “nothing but the principle of maximization of subjective utility—a fancy version of egoism”. Bunge, who was also a fierce critic of pseudoscience, warned that when “conceived in extremely general terms and detached from both ethics and science, praxiology has hardly any practical value”.
Austrian economics in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises relies heavily on praxeology in the development of its economic theories. Mises considered economics to be a sub-discipline of praxeology. Austrian School economists, following Mises, use praxeology and deduction, rather than empirical studies, to determine economic principles. According to these theorists, with the action axiom as the starting point, it is possible to draw conclusions about human behavior that are both objective and universal. For example, the notion that humans engage in acts of choice implies that they have preferences, and this must be true for anyone who exhibits intentional behavior.
Advocates of praxeology also say that it provides insights for the field of ethics.
“The First World War must be brought about in order to permit the Illuminati to overthrow the power of the Czars in Russia and of making that country a fortress of atheistic Communism. The divergences caused by the “agentur” (agents) of the Illuminati between the British and Germanic Empires will be used to foment this war. At the end of the war, Communism will be built and used in order to destroy the other governments and in order to weaken the religions.”
“The Second World War must be fomented by taking advantage of the differences between the Fascists and the political Zionists. This war must be brought about so that Nazism is destroyed and that the political Zionism be strong enough to institute a sovereign state of Israel in Palestine. During the Second World War, International Communism must become strong enough in order to balance Christendom, which would be then restrained and held in check until the time when we would need it for the final social cataclysm.”
“The Third World War must be fomented by taking advantage of the differences caused by the “agentur” of the “Illuminati” between the political Zionists and the leaders of Islamic World. The war must be conducted in such a way that Islam (the Moslem Arabic World) and political Zionism (the State of Israel) mutually destroy each other. Meanwhile the other nations, once more divided on this issue will be constrained to fight to the point of complete physical, moral, spiritual and economical exhaustion…We shall unleash the Nihilists and the atheists, and we shall provoke a formidable social cataclysm which in all its horror will show clearly to the nations the effect of absolute atheism, origin of savagery and of the most bloody turmoil. Then everywhere, the citizens, obliged to defend themselves against the world minority of revolutionaries, will exterminate those destroyers of civilization, and the multitude, disillusioned with Christianity, whose deistic spirits will from that moment be without compass or direction, anxious for an ideal, but without knowing where to render its adoration, will receive the true light through the universal manifestation of the pure doctrine of Lucifer, brought finally out in the public view. This manifestation will result from the general reactionary movement which will follow the destruction of Christianity and atheism, both conquered and exterminated at the same time.”
“As far as we can tell, it doesn’t age or die,” says Assistant Professor Celina Juliano, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. “You can cut little pieces out of the animal and it will regrow and maybe the most amazing thing is that you can dissociate the animal into single cells, mix them all up, put them back in a ball and a new Hydra will just grow out of it.”