Raymond Aron: Between Theory and History in the Field of International Relations

Giovanni Busino, "Raymond Aron: Between Theory and History in the Field of International Relations," International Studies Quarterly, (1985) 29, 13-27.


The scope of Raymond Aron’s work has always caused his commentators and his disciples to despair. Many unpublished works will probably be released in the near future. However, Erin’s death makes it possible to study in depth, at last, his scientific contribution and to separate the 2 activities which he led jointly and never fully distinguished: journalism, or commentaries of current events which he thought he had the duty to clarify and to interpret, and theoretical writings, the works of a philosopher of history who was also a sociologist of contemporary societies and a critic of the social and political thought of most great writers in history.

The only purpose of this essay is to sum up Raymond Aaron’s scientific contribution to the theory of international relations. I will therefore leave aside books, or parts of books, that deal primarily with current affairs, nor will I examine that’s part of his work which takes the form of historical and there it is, for instance the major parts of The Imperial Republic.  Nor will I discuss the 1st volume of Clausewitz, which belongs in the realm of criticism of ideas, nor repeats what I wrote 20 years ago in my detailed accounts of peace and war, shortly after the publication of this masterwork in France. However, at the end of this essay, I discuss posthumous publication in which he re-examines his own main concepts and contributions.