Raymond Aron

Raymond Aron

Raymond Aron (1966) by Erling Mandelmann
Born (1905-03-14)14 March 1905
Paris, France
Died 17 October 1983(1983-10-17) (aged 78)[1]
Paris, France
Alma mater École Normale Supérieure
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School French Liberalism
Main interests
Political philosophy
Notable ideas
Marxism as the opium of intellectuals

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 the 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[4] 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.[5]

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[6] 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

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.[6] He was a rational humanist,[7][8] and a leader among those who did not embrace existentialism.[9] 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.[10]

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

Political commitment

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

Political thought

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.

In the field of international relations, in the 1950s, Aron hypothesized that despite the advent of nuclear weapons, nations would still require conventional military forces. The usefulness of such forces would be made necessary by what he called a "nuclear taboo."[11]


Other media


  1. Hoffmann, Stanley (December 8, 1983). "Raymond Aron (1905–1983)". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  2. 1 2 Brian C. Anderson, Raymond Aron: The Recovery of the Political, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000, p. 3.
  3. Raymond Aron, Les Étapes de la pensée sociologique, Introduction.
  4. Kimball, Roger (2001). "Aron & the power of ideas". New Criterion, May 2001
  5. Memoirs: fifty years of political reflection, By Raymond Aron (1990)
  6. 1 2 Garland, James R. "Raymond Aron and the Intellectuals: Arguments supportive of Libertarianism." Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Fall 2007).
  7. p.170
  8. Aron (1994) In Defense of Political Reason, p.170
  9. Carruth, Gorton (1993) The encyclopedia of world facts and dates, p.932
  10. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  11. http://contemporarythinkers.org/raymond-aron/introduction/


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Raymond Aron.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/12/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.