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Statesmanship and Ethics: Aron, Max Weber, and Politics as a Vocation

  • Scott Nelson
  • José Colen
Part of the Recovering Political Philosophy book series (REPOPH)

Abstract

Raymond Aron discovered Max Weber around the same time that he discovered Karl Marx—in the early 1930s, during his sojourn in Germany. These thinkers represented a fraction of the total number of German authors he delved into at the time, including Husserl, Heidegger, and the Southwest School of neo-Kantians (Heinrich Rickert and Wilhelm Windelband).1 It was in Max Weber’s writings that Aron eventually found the resources and the words to express the relationship between politics and morality.2 Moreover, Aron also found in Weber an exposition of the tension between knowledge (science) and action (politics). There are genuine trade-offs between a profession that demands the absolute pursuit of truth and one that demands the willingness to compromise not only one’s own morals (anathema to the moralist) but even the truth itself (anathema to the scientist). This variance at the root of science and politics is probably why Aron was so fond of “failed” statesmen: Thucydides, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, and Weber himself All of them partook to some extent in politics or war, and they were incredibly gifted thinkers who reflected on the nature of politics or war.

Keywords

Political Morality German Culture Diffi Culties Relevant Page Modern Social 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See Raymond Aron, Mémoires: Edition intégrale inédite, Paris, Editions Robert Laffont, 2010 [1983], 102.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Franciszek Draus, “La philosophie sociale de Raymond Aron,” PhD diss., Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 1981, 9.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See Raymond Aron, La Sociologie allemande contemporaine, Paris, Quadrige, 2007 [1935], 81. The relevant pages from this work are 82 and 102–110.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    See Raymond Aron, Les Etapes de la pensée sociologique, Paris, Gallimard, 2011 [1967]), 21.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Raymond Aron, “Max Weber and Modem Social Science,” trans. Charles Krance, in Franciszek Draus (ed.), History, Truth, Liberty: Selected Writings of Raymond Aron, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1985, 336.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    See Ralf Dahrendorf, afterword to Politik als Beruf, by Max Weber, Stuttgart, Reclam, 1992, 85–86, 89, 92–93.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
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  8. 12.
    Max Weber, “The Profession and Vocation of Politics,” in Peter Lassman and Ronald Speirs (eds.), Weber: Political Writings, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000 [1994], 367.Google Scholar
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    See Hans Henrik Bruun, Science, Values and Politics in Max Weber’s Methodology, Hampshire, Ashgate, 2007 [1972], Loc. 7956, 7978, and 1407, Kindle.Google Scholar
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    See Sven Eliaeson, “Constitutional Caesarism: Weber’s politics in their German context,” in Stephen Turner (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Weber, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2000, 134–135Google Scholar
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  13. Max Weber, “Parlament und Regierung im neugeordneten Deutschland,” in Johannes Wicnkelmann (ed.), Gesammelte politische Schriften, Tübingen, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) Verlag, 1988 [1919], 311–320.Google Scholar
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  17. 24.
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  19. 31.
    See Aron, “Max Weber et la politique de puissance,” 650; Max Weber, “Der Nationalstaat und die Volkswirtschaftspolitik,” in Johannes Winckelmann (ed.), Gesammelte politische Schriften, Tübingen, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) Verlag, 1988 [1919], 14.Google Scholar
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  21. Carlo Antoni, Dallo storicismo alla sociologia, Firenze, G. C. Sansoni, 1940, 142–143.Google Scholar
  22. 35.
    The relevant sections of this course for the following discussion on Raymond Polin, Ethique et politique, Paris, Sirey, 1968, are Leçon 1, fls. 3–4, 12, Leçon 6, fls. 5–7, 10–11, 21–24, and Leçon 7, fl. 3.Google Scholar
  23. 36.
    Regarding the controversy with Maritain, see Raymond Aron, Machiavel et les tyrannies modernes, ed. Rémy Freymond, Paris, Éditions de Fallois, 1993, 367–378, 405–416.Google Scholar
  24. See also Serge Audier, Machiavel, conflit et liberté, Paris, Editions EHESS, 2005, 73–87.Google Scholar
  25. 38.
    See Raymond Aron, Le Spectateur engagé. Entretiens avec Jean-Louis Missika et Dominique Wolton, Paris, Julliard,1981, 303.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© José Colen and Elisabeth Dutartre-Michaut 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott Nelson
  • José Colen

There are no affiliations available

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