University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > Crisis and Conflict: The British Naval Intellectual Establishment, 1905-1908

Crisis and Conflict: The British Naval Intellectual Establishment, 1905-1908

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British naval intellectual culture would take on three distinct tropes in this period, evolving from the genesis of academic deliberations and disputes to form a coherent intellectual strategic community. Firstly, there can be seen an academic quest for naval strategy defined not by mere accepted wisdom or received knowledge as may have characterised earlier years, but by “scientific” strategy formulated upon immutable “first principles” or “laws”, derived from historical and practical lessons and those regarded as authorities and experts from their employment of this methodology. Secondly, armed with what they regarded as this higher form of scientific strategy, the intellectuals sought representation in the decision making processes of Government and the Admiralty on naval strategy as dispassionate thinkers free from the tumult of external concern and influence. Thirdly, this would engender political problems, as the intellectuals and the culture they were part of inevitably did become embroiled in political wrangling, leading to definitions of themselves as “non-political” or “apolitical” from their supposedly dispassionate and scientific study of strategy; these definitions would cause a crisis in the entire community as many could not resolve these two roles.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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