Thursday, October 01, 2009

War and Peace (4)

I enjoyed his comment about the German General Pfuhl, a war theorist.

Pfuhl had been one of those responsible for the plan of campaign that ended in Jena and Auerstadt. But in the failure of that war he did not see the slightest evidence of the weakness of his theory. On the contrary, the whole failure was to his thinking entirely due to the failures that had been made from his theory, and he used to say with his characteristic gleeful sarcasm: "Didn't I always say the whole thing is going to the devil?"

Pfuhl was one of those theorists who so love their theory that they lose sight of the object of the theory—its application to practice. His love for his theory led him to hate all practical considerations, and he would not hear of them. He positively rejoiced in failure, for failure, being due to some departure in practice from the purity of the abstract theory, only convinced him of the correctness of his theory (War and Peace p.729).

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