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Abstract

At the heart of the political realist ethic of international politics which Niebuhr developed through the 1930s and 1940s to replace his pacifism was a belief that without coercion there could be no order, and without order there could be no justice. This chapter examines these claims and the bases on which they rest, namely, Niebuhr’s view of human nature and of human community.

Keywords

Human Nature Human Community International Politics Political Realism Natural Impulse 
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. 4.
    Niebuhr, Europe’s Catastrophe and the Christian Faith (London: Nisbet 1940) 28.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Niebuhr, Faith and History: A Comparison of Christian and Modern Views of History (London: Nisbet 1938) 114.Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Niebuhr believes that faith makes clear very important elements of reality which rationalism misses. We must admit that we do not know, on the basis of rational analysis alone, all we need for our collective life. There is dogmatic hubris of reason which blinds us to important elements of reality such as evil and self-regard. We cannot understand our discordant nature or the world without ‘suprarational’ religion. This conclusion was reached by the mathematician, physicist, engineer and philosopher Blaise Pascal who decided that there is ‘nothing so consistent with reason as this denial of reason’ (A. J. Krailsheimer, Pascal: Pensées [Harmondsworth: Penguin 1966] no. K182).Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Niebuhr, Discerning the Signs of the Times: Sermons for Today and Tomorrow (London: Student Christian Movement Press 1946) 139–42.Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    Niebuhr, The Self and the Drama of History (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons 1955) 223.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (London: Nisbet 1952) 142.Google Scholar
  7. 26.
    Augustine, The Political Writings, ed. Henry Paolucci (Chicago: Gateway Editions 1982) 1.Google Scholar
  8. 36.
    See Dun and Niebuhr, ‘God Wills Both Justice and Peace’, Christianity and Crisis 15 (13 June 1955).Google Scholar
  9. 47.
    In Niebuhr, Reflections on the End of an Era, 1934.Google Scholar
  10. 50.
    Niebuhr, ‘The Limits of American Power’, Christianity and Society vol. 17, no. 4 (Autumn 1954) 5.Google Scholar
  11. 51.
    Niebuhr, Tower and Justice’, Christianity and Society vol. 8, no. 1 (Winter 1942) 10.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Colm McKeogh 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colm McKeogh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Public PolicyUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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