The Purpose of the First World War
The eminent historian Jay Winter has devoted a lifetime of research to the study of the First World War. He concludes his six-part video series, The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century:

The war solved no problems. Its effects, both immediate and indirect, were either negative or disastrous. Morally subversive, economically destructive, socially degrading, confused in its course, futile in its result, it is the outstanding example in European history of meaningless conflict.

In short, the First World War—with an estimated 37 million casualties—was useless.

Yet Aristotle stated (in The Politics, Book I) that “all men do all their acts with a view to achieving something which is, in their view, a good.” What was the “good” that men sought to achieve through the First World War?

We turn to Aristotle again with his concept of telos (from the Greek for “end,” “purpose” or “goal”). A philosophy of teleology “sees purpose in ends rather than stated causes, making the outcome the actual, or ‘final’ cause.” When one sees things in terms of teleology, “one explain actions by their results.”

Perhaps the telos or purpose of the First World War is revealed in the photo below.