What Is Military Enlightenment?
The introduction presents the book’ argument: from the late seventeenth through the eighteenth century, the seemingly antipodal phenomena of war and enlightenment were inextricably connected in a metadiscourse that constituted one of the greatest challenges, debates, and fights for progress of the century. This metadiscourse was born of “the Enlightenment” as a discursive context and a contemporary acceptance of war as an inevitable part of human society and as necessary for sovereign states both in terms of reputation and success in a colonial, mercantilist age. Facing the exorbitant costs of global warfare and growing moral criticism, agents of the Military Enlightenment sought to make “good war” in two ways. First, to wage war when necessary and to do so effectively and efficiently while sparing costs and precious resources of the fiscal-military state, especially manpower. Second, to wage war humanely to reflect the compassion, rationality, and dignity of the human race.
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