Raymond Aron

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Raymond Aron
Raymond Aron (1966) by Erling Mandelmann.jpg
Raymond Aron (1966) by Erling Mandelmann
Born (1905-03-14)14 March 1905
Paris, France
Died 17 November 1983(1983-11-17) (aged 78)
Paris, France
Era 20th century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School French Liberalism

Raymond-Claude-Ferdinand Aron (French: [ʁɛmɔ̃ aʁɔ̃]; 14 March 1905 – 17 October 1983) was a French philosopher, sociologist, journalist, and political scientist.

He is best known for his 1955 book The Opium of the Intellectuals, the title of which inverts Karl Marx's claim that religion was the opium of the people – Aron argues that in post-war France, Marxism was the opium of intellectuals. In the book, Aron chastised French intellectuals for what he described as their harsh criticism of capitalism and democracy and their simultaneous defense of Marxist oppression, atrocities, and intolerance. Critic Roger Kimball[1] suggests that Opium is "a seminal book of the twentieth century." Aron is also known for his lifelong friendship, sometimes fractious, with philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.[2]

He is also known for his 1973 book, The Imperial Republic: The United States and the World 1945-1973, which influenced Zbigniew Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger, among others.

Aron wrote extensively on a wide range of other topics. Citing the breadth and quality of Aron's writings, historian James R. Garland[3] suggests, "Though he may be little known in America, Raymond Aron arguably stood as the preeminent example of French intellectualism for much of the twentieth century."

Life and career[edit]

Born in Paris, the son of a secular Jewish lawyer, Aron studied at the École Normale Supérieure, where he met Jean-Paul Sartre, who became his friend and lifelong intellectual opponent.[3] He was a rational humanist,[4][5] and a leader among those who did not embrace existentialism.[6] Aron took first place in the Agrégation of philosophy in 1928, the year Sartre failed the same exam. In 1930, he received a doctorate in the philosophy of history from the École Normale Supérieure.

He had been teaching social philosophy at the University of Toulouse for only a few weeks when World War II began; he joined the Armée de l'Air. When France was defeated, he left for London to join the Free French forces, editing the newspaper, France Libre (Free France).

When the war ended Aron returned to Paris to teach sociology at the École Nationale d'Administration and at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. From 1955 to 1968, he taught at the Sorbonne, and after 1970 at the Collège de France. In 1953, he befriended the young American philosopher Allan Bloom, who was teaching at the Sorbonne.

A lifelong journalist, Aron in 1947 became an influential columnist for Le Figaro, a position he held for thirty years until he joined L'Express, where he wrote a political column up to his death.

He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1960.[7]

Aron died of a heart attack in Paris on 17 October 1983.

Political commitment[edit]

In Berlin, Aron witnessed Nazi book burnings, and developed an aversion to all totalitarian systems. In 1938 he participated in the Colloque Walter Lippmann in Paris.

Political thought[edit]

Aron is the author of books on Karl Marx and on Carl von Clausewitz. In Peace and War he set out a theory of international relations. He argues that Max Weber's claim that the State has a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force does not apply to the relationship between States.

Works[edit]

  • La Sociologie allemande contemporaine, Paris: Alcan, 1935; German Sociology, London: Heinemann, 1957
  • Introduction à la philosophie de l'histoire. Essai sur les limites de l'objectivité historique, Paris: Gallimard, 1938; Introduction to the Philosophy of History: An Essay on the Limits of Historical Objectivity, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1948
  • Essai sur la théorie de l'histoire dans l'Allemagne contemporaine. La philosophie critique de l'histoire, Paris: Vrin, 1938
  • L'Homme contre les tyrans, New York, Editions de la Maison française, 1944
  • De l'armistice à l'insurrection nationale, Paris: Gallimard, 1945
  • L'Âge des empires et l'Avenir de la France, Paris: Défense de la France, 1945
  • Le Grand Schisme, Paris: Gallimard, 1948
  • Les Guerres en chaîne, Paris: Gallimard, 1951
  • La Coexistence pacifique. Essai d'analyse, Paris: Editions Monde nouveau, 1953 (under the pseudonym François Houtisse, with Boris Souvarine)
  • L'Opium des intellectuels, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1955; The Opium of the Intellectuals, London: Secker & Warburg, 1957
  • Polémiques, Paris: Gallimard, 1955
  • La Tragédie algérienne, Paris: Plon, 1957
  • Espoir et peur du siècle. Essais non partisans, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1957
  • L'Algérie et la République, Paris: Plon, 1958
  • La Société industrielle et la Guerre, suivi d'un Tableau de la diplomatie mondiale en 1958, Paris: Plon, 1959
  • Immuable et changeante. De la IVe à la Ve République, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1959
  • Introduction. Classes et conflits de classes dans la société industrielle (Ralph Dahrendorf), Paris: Mouton Éditeur, 1959
  • Dimensions de la conscience historique, Paris: Plon, 1961
  • Paix et guerre entre les nations, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1962; Peace and War, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1966
  • Le Grand Débat. Initiation à la stratégie atomique, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1963
  • Dix-huit leçons sur la société industrielle, Paris: Gallimard, 1963; Eighteen Lectures on Industrial Society, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1967
  • La Lutte des classes, Paris: Gallimard, 1964
  • Essai sur les libertés, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1965
  • Démocratie et totalitarisme, 1965
  • Trois essais sur l'âge industriel, Paris: Plon, 1966; The Industrial Society. Three Essays on Ideology and Development, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1967
  • Les Étapes de la pensée sociologique, Paris: Gallimard, 1967; Main Currents in Sociological Thought, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1965
  • De Gaulle, Israël et les Juifs, Paris: Plon, 1968
  • La Révolution introuvable. Réflexions sur les événements de mai, Paris: Fayard, 1968
  • Les Désillusions du progrès, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1969; Progress and Disillusion: The Dialectics of Modern Society, Pall Mall Press, 1968
  • D'une sainte famille à l'autre. Essai sur le marxisme imaginaire, Paris: Gallimard, 1969
  • De la condition historique du sociologue, Paris: Gallimard, 1971
  • Études politiques, Paris: Gallimard, 1972
  • République impériale. Les États-unis dans le monde (1945–1972), Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1973; The Imperial Republic: The United States and the World 19451973, Little Brown & Company 1974
  • Histoire et dialectique de la violence, Paris: Gallimard, 1973; History and the Dialectic of Violence: Analysis of Sartre's Critique de la raison dialectique, Oxford: Blackwell, 1979
  • Penser la guerre, Clausewitz, Paris: Gallimard, 1976; Clausewitz: Philosopher of War, London: Routledge, 1983
  • Plaidoyer pour l'Europe décadente, Paris: Laffont, 1977; In Defense of Decadent Europe, South Bend IN: Regnery, 1977
  • with Andre Glucksman and Benny Levy. "Sartre's Errors: A Discussion". TELOS 44 (Summer 1980). New York: Telos Press
  • Le Spectateur engagé, Paris: Julliard, 1981 (interviews)
  • Mémoires, Paris: Julliard, 1983
  • Les dernières années du siècle, Paris: Julliard, 1984
  • Ueber Deutschland und den Nationalsozialismus. Fruehe politische Schriften 1930–1939, Joachim Stark, ed. and pref., Opladen: Leske & Budrich, 1993
  • Le Marxisme de Marx, Paris: Éditions de Fallois, 2002
  • De Giscard à Mitterrand: 1977–1983 (editorials from L'Express), with preface by Jean-Claude Casanova, Paris: Éditions de Fallois, 2005

Other media[edit]

  • Raymond Aron, spectateur engagé. Entretiens avec Raymond Aron. (Duration: 160 mins.), DVD, Éditions Montparnasse, 2005

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kimball, Roger (2001). "Aron & the power of ideas". New Criterion, May 2001
  2. ^ Memoirs: fifty years of political reflection, By Raymond Aron (1990)
  3. ^ a b Garland, James R. "Raymond Aron and the Intellectuals: Arguments supportive of Libertarianism." Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Fall 2007).
  4. ^ p.170
  5. ^ Aron (1994) In Defense of Political Reason, p.170
  6. ^ Carruth, Gorton (1993) The encyclopedia of world facts and dates, p.932
  7. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 

Sources[edit]

  • Anderson, Brian C., Raymond Aron: The Recovery of the Political, Rowman & Littlefield, 1998
  • Davis, Reed M. A Politics of Understanding: The International Thought of Raymond Aron. Baton Rouge LA.:Louisiana State University Press, 2009 ISBN 978-0-8071-3517-4
  • Gagliano, Giuseppe La nuova sinistra americana e il movimento del maggio francese nelle interpretazioni di Raymon Aron e Herbert Marcuse. Uniservice, 2011 ISBN 978-88-6178-660-8
  • Launay, Stephen, La Pensée politique de Raymond Aron, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1995
  • Mahoney, Daniel and Bryan-Paul Frost (eds.), Political Reason in the Age of Ideology: Essays in Honor of Raymond Aron, New Brunswick/London: Transaction Publishers, 2006
  • Molina, Jerónimo, Raymond Aron, realista político. Del maquiavelismo a la crítica de las religiones seculares, Madrid: Sequitur, 2013
  • Stark, Joachim, Das unvollendete Abenteuer. Geschichte, Gesellschaft und Politik im Werk Raymond Arons, Wuerzburg: Koenigshausen und Neumann, 1986
  • Stark, Joachim, Raymond Aron (1905–1983), in Dirk Kaesler, Klassiker der Soziologie, Vol.II: Von Talcott Parsons bis Anthony Giddens, Munich: Beck, 5th ed., 2007, 105–129
  • Bavaj, Riccardo Ideologierausch und Realitaetsblindheit. Raymond Arons Kritik am Intellektuellen franzoesischen Typs, Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History 5 (2008), No. 2, 332–338, URL: www.zeithistorische-forschungen.de/16126041-Bavaj-2-2008
  • Oppermann, Matthias, Raymond Aron und Deutschland. Die Verteidigung der Freiheit und das Problem des Totalitarismus, Ostfildern: Thorbecke Verlag 2008.
  • Oppermann, Matthias (Ed.), Im Kampf gegen die modernen Tyranneien. Ein Raymond-Aron-Brevier, Zurich: NZZ Libro 2011.
  • Stark, Joachim, Das unvollendete Abenteuer. Geschichte, Gesellschaft und Politik im Werk Raymond Arons, Wuerzburg: Koenigshausen und Neumann, 1986
  • Stark, Joachim, Raymond Aron (1905–1983), in Dirk Kaesler, Klassiker der Soziologie, Vol.II: Von Talcott Parsons bis Anthony Giddens, Munich: Beck, 5th ed., 2007, 105–129

External links[edit]