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Raymond Claude Ferdinand Aron

political commentator , sociologist

Raymond Claude Ferdinand Aron, French Sociologist; political commentator.


Aron, Raymond Claude Ferdinand was born on March 14, 1905 in Paris, France. Son of Gustave and Suzanne (Levy) Aron.


Agregation de Philosophie, Ecole Normale, Superieure and Faculty of Letters, Paris U., 1928, Doctorat es Lettres, 1938. Doctor of Laws, Harvard, 1958, U. Bale, 1960, U. Bruxelles, 1963. Doctor of Laws (honorary), Columbia University, 1966.


1930-1933, Lecturer, University of Cologne, then (1931), the French Institute, Berlin. Secretary, Center Social Studies, Ecole Normale Superieure, 1934-1939. Lecturer faculty letters U. Toulouse (France), 1939. Editor Le France Libre, London, England., 1940-1944.

Columnist Figuro, 1947-1983. Professor faculty letters Paris U., 1955-1983. Andrew D. White professor-at-large Cornell Univercity, 1965.

Author: Introduction to the Philosophy of History, 1938. Century of Total War, 1951. Opium of the Intellectuals, 1955.

Peace and War Among Nations, 1962. Home: Paris, France.


  • Author: Introduction to the Philosophy of History, 1938. Century of Total War, 1951. Opium of the Intellectuals, 1955.Peace and War Among Nations, 1962.

  • Main publications:(1936) La Sociologie allemande contemporaine, Paris: PUF (English translation from the second edition (1950), German Sociology, trans. Mary and Thomas Bottomore, London: Heinemann. 1957). (1938) Introduction à la philosophie de l'histoire, Paris: Gallimard (English translation. Introduction to the Philosophy of History, trans. George J. Irwin, Boston: Beacon Press, 1961).(1955) LOpium des intellectuels, Paris: Gallimard (English translation. The Opium of the Intellectuals, trans. Terence Kilmartin, New York: Doubleday. 1957).(1964) La Lutte de classes: Nouvelles leçons sur les sociétés industrielles, Paris: Gallimard.(1976) Penser le guerre, Clausewitz, 2 vols, Paris: Gallimard: vol. 1, L’Age européen, vol. 2, L’Age planétaire.Secondary literature:Casanova, Jean Claude, Shils. Edward and Sperber, Manes (eds) (1971) Science et conscience de la société: Melanges en l'honneur de Raymond Aron, 2 vols. Paris: Calmann-Levy.Colquhoun, Robert ( 1986) Raymond Aron, 2 vols, London: Sage: vol. 1, The Philosopher in History, vol. 2, The Sociologist in Society.


Aron’s work was thoroughly interdisciplinary in both method and substance, and his contributions are prolific and diverse. As a journalist, for decades Aron wrote for Le Figaro, and then, after June 1977, for the more progressive Express. He became one of France’s leading political commentators.

Although affected by Marx and much inspired by Max Weber, Aron was the avowed heir of Montesquieu and de Tocqueville.

He regarded historical and political forces, rather than social and economic structures, as ultimately shaping human collectives. Above all Aron sought to defend the value of freedom and to preserve the irreducible subjectivity of human experience and the open-endedness of history from sociological and historical determinism.

Aron's prewar concerns were with epistemological and formal problems in sociological thought and the philosophy of history. After the war his work had a different orientation, addressing the immediate concrete political, economic, social and international problems of twentiethcentury life.

In his earlier years Aron was a friend of JeanPaul Sartre, but the two fell out in 1947 with the advent of the Cold War.

Cutting his ties with the French Left for its unquestioning support of Stalin, Aron attacked the Marxist assumptions of his former friend in L'Opiunt des intellectuels (1955). He contended that the Marxists had confused Marxist goals with Stalinist practice, that their adherence to the idea of ‘historical inevitability' was destroying their critical judgement and turning them into fanatics. A liberal and constitutional pluralist, Aron criticized both right and left for reinforcing centralizing and statist tendencies in their plans and practices.

Aron’s work was effective in forcing a confrontation between theorizing and public policy. A pioneer in the study of international relations involved in peace and war, he also influenced the development of peace studies.


  • Philosophers & Thinkers

    Montesquieu, Alexis de Tocqueville, Marx, Max Weber. Dilthey, Simmel and Rickert.

  • Other Interests

    History and critique of sociological thought. Philosophy of history. Ideological criticism.

    French politics; analysis of the industrial order. International relations.


Married Suzanne Gauchon, September 5, 1933. Children: Dominique (Mistress Antoine Schnapper), Laurence.

Gustave Aron

Suzanne (Levy) Aron

Suzanne Gauchon

Dominique Aron (Mistress Antoine Schnapper)

Laurence Aron