European Liberty: Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Leszek Kolakowski, Marguerite Yourcenar

Pierre Manent, European Liberty: Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Leszek Kolakowski, Marguerite Yourcenar, The Hague: Nijhoff, 1983.


Among the features that might characterize the 20th century—the one which begins in 1914—at least 3 are indisputable: in the political field, wars and revolutions which seem to defy all reason by the discrepancy between the mediocrity of man and the scope of events, by the duration of their destructive momentum which no longer seems controlled by any rational intent, sometimes even by the active presence of some malignant will which becomes hand and in and of itself; in the intellectual sphere, the separation of intellectual activity into varied disciplines which no longer have any necessary relation to each other, a specialization built upon the authority of that which we call science, however destructive of the organizing and integrating capacity of the human spirit; and finally in the spiritual realm, the sway of a temptation, that of bidding adieu to reason. Martin Heidegger, the greatest philosopher of the century, who for some years lent his authority to the national–socialist movements and 2, disdaining any rich rack keno, ceaselessly denounced reason as “the most relentless enemy of thoughts”, bears witness to this temp Tatian with emblematic clarity. When the last great representative of German philosophical thought makes an alliance with Acheron,  when the communist movement in the name of the realization and consummation of the Enlightenment  restores the witch trials, how can one maintain one’s reason? How can one protectThe human city?

It is an instructive paradox that in the up evil caused by his contact with a Germany toppling into darkness, a French Jew, faithful to the tradition of the Enlightenment, founded the impetus and resources to confront the danger.