Tragedy and History:
The German Influence on Raymond Aron’s Political Thought
Raymond Aron was one of the finest Cold War liberals of the 20th century. A contemporary of Jean-Paul Sartre, he differed from many of his French compatriots in his fervent anti-communism and defence of the liberal order, such that he is commonly understood to be a part of the French liberal tradition. Originally Scott B. Nelson’s Dr. phil. dissertation at the University of Vienna, for which the author was awarded the Prix Raymond Aron 2017, Tragedy and History: The German Influence on Raymond Aron’s Political Thought examines the cohesion of Raymond Aron’s political thought and argues that its unifying principles are to be found in certain intellectual problems he came upon early in life through his study of German thought. These problems consist of the relation between man and history, knowledge and action, and philosophy and politics. They are explored in three intertwined facets of Aron’s thought – History, Sociology, and Praxeology – which are elaborated by setting Aron in dialogue with three key German thinkers: Wilhelm Dilthey, Karl Marx, and Max Weber respectively. This work argues that the roots of Aron’s political thought reach back to the 1930s and that his ongoing meditation on the philosophical problems raised at that time endure and provide the framework for his thought for the rest of his life.
Scott B. Nelson
is an independent writer and political thinker. He has several publications listed on his website, The Vienna Symposium
, where he regularly blogs. He is presently working on a book dealing with Charles de Gaulle’s vision of Europe, as well as co-authoring a book on Cicero and modern politics.
The presentation will be held in English.