Reed M. Davis, A Politics of Understanding: The International Thought of Raymond Aron

Bryan-Paul Frost, "Reed Davis, A Politics of Understanding: The International Thought of Raymond Aron," Bryan-Paul Frost Society, v47 n6: 554-556.


For an international theorist whose work was largely written during, as well as in the context of, the Cold War, one might charitably described the bulk of Raymond Aron’s enormous corpus as “dated.” Of course, historians of international politics, in general, and theorists of international relations, in particular, might profitably turn into this towering French philosopher in order to understand how, why, and in what ways he so capably navigated the treacherous political waters of the 20th century when so many other of his fellow intellectuals (if not the majority of them, both inside and outside of France) floundered or shipwrecked on the shoals of communism; but even in this case, interest in error and would be more antiquarian than urgent and necessary.

Reed M. Davis  Would have us rethink such a polite assessments. Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Seattle Pacific University, Davis argues that Aron still has much to teach us in the 21st century, both in terms of the way in which he approached political phenomena and the conclusions he drew. As indicated in his very title, David applauds Aron’s  wife long effort to “understand” politics rather than to “explain” edits or, in other words, his self-conscious commitments to eschew unidimensional explanatory theories (whether Marxist or otherwise) in favor of a multidimensional or pluralistic approach that always sought to bring lights to how the historical actors involved understood themselves and–or however read historical events was a unique confluence of forces and factors.

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