The Four Paretos of Raymond Aron

Stuart L Campbell, "The Four Paretos of Raymond Aron," Journal of the History of Ideas, 47, (1986), 287-298.


This article originated in a November 1982 conversation with Raymond Aron. Our discussion, largely concerned with Erin’s political convictions during the interwar period, eventually focused upon the differences separating his prewar and post war  appraisals of Vilfredo Pareto.  although he acknowledged that a reorientation in political understanding partially accounted for his change of heart towards Pareto, Aron refused to allow the matter to rest on that note. To settle the question to his satisfaction, he closed our conversation by observing that, “there are, after all, four Paretos, and I have written on each one of them.”

My purpose here is to survey errands several assessments of Pareto over nearly half a century, to show how those assessments reflect certain features of Erin’s political thinking during that. And, finally, to indicates how Aron came to conclude that there were in fact four Paretos.