Frequently hailed as one of the greatest defenders of democratic
liberalism in postwar Europe, French philosopher, sociologist, and
political commentator Raymond Aron (1905--1983) left behind a
staggering amount of published work on a remarkably wide range of
topics both scholarly and popular. In A Politics of Understanding,
Reed M. Davis assesses the originality and consistency of Aron's
body of work, drawing a connection between Aron's philosophy of
history and three of his abiding interests: the nature of
industrial society, international relations theory, and strategic
Davis begins with a brief biography of Aron, known for his
skepticism toward political ideologies in the post--World War II
era and as an intellectual opponent of Jean-Paul Sartre. After
spending three years in Germany in the early 1930s, Aron, a Jew,
returned to France in 1933. When war broke out, he fought for a
year in the French army and, after the fall of France, escaped to
London, where he edited the newspaper of the Free French, La France
Libre. He returned to Paris after the war and remained there for
the rest of his life, working as a professor and journalist. He
wrote an influential political column for Le Figaro for thirty
years and authored many books, including The Opium of the
Intellectuals (1935), The Algerian Tragedy (1957), and Peace and
From World War II onward, Davis shows, Aron sought to construct
a science of human action that had as its goal charting the way of
human progress in light of two fundamental realities,
industrialization and the existence of nuclear weapons. Throughout
his long career, he continually asked himself whether human life
was becoming better as it became more technologically rationalized
and more scientifically advanced. In his close analysis of Aron's
thought, Davis carefully describes how Aron fused Max Weber's
neo-Kantianism with Edmund Husserl's phenomenology to create an
original theory of historical knowledge.
The central theoretical impulse in all of Aron's works, Davis
explains, is that of reconciling freedom and necessity. The ways in
which Aron attempted to reconcile these two polarities in his
earliest writings had a direct bearing on the manner in which he
sought to reconcile realism and idealism in his international
thought. By attempting to bring reason and necessity into the same
loose orbit, Aron tried to construct a theoretical approach to
international relations and statecraft that could hold the middle
ground between realism and idealism.
Many scholars have simply abandoned efforts to understand the
more philosophical dimensions of Aron's thinking because of its
technical difficulty. With A Politics of Understanding, Davis
provides a concise and clearly written explanation of the basic
concepts at work in Aron's philosophy and ties them directly to his
later thinking, especially concerning international relations.
Is the information for this product incomplete, wrong or inappropriate?
Let us know about it.
Does this product have an incorrect or missing image?
Send us a new image.
Is this product missing categories?
Add more categories.
Review This Product
No reviews yet - be the first to create one!