Is there a Veterans Philosophy Project anywhere? I have not found one. But over the last two years as I earned BAs in philosophy and sociology I have been struck by the number of great thinkers who have been to war. I am starting a list of them and will post it here once I do more research and flesh out the list.
If you know philosophers or social theorists whose war experience influenced their writing, leave their names in the comments section and I’ll add them to my list. Some off the top of my head are Socrates, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jean-Paul Sartre, Emmanuel Levinas, and Norbert Elias – the latter three also spent time as prisoners of war.
Contemplative conversations about my military experience seem to quickly over stay their interpersonal-welcome as listeners usually change the subject before any depth is reached. Writing becomes an outlet of choice. But writing is hard. Thankfully, a group of military veteran writers, the Veterans Writing Project and the Hospitalized Veterans’ Writing Project, are making it easier.
Justine Browning writes at Nation of Change yesterday:
In the last 10 years, putting the experience of war into written language has emerged as a popular form of therapy for growing numbers of veterans. This is largely due to the upswing in organizations and volunteers devoted to helping veterans make sense of post-combat life through prose, including the Veterans Writing Project and the literary journal O-Dark-Thirty.
There’s also Veterans’ Voices of the Hospitalized Veterans’ Writing Project (HVWP), which assists veterans with rehabilitation through therapeutic writing.
Please support these organizations, and help me make a list of philosophers and social theorists who were strongly influenced by their war experience.