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Raymond Aron and Liberal Thought in the Twentieth Century


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  • Date Published: February 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108735865

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About the Authors
  • Raymond Aron is widely regarded as the most important figure in the history of twentieth-century French liberalism. Yet his status within the history of liberal thought has been more often proclaimed than explained. Though he is frequently lauded as the inheritor of France's liberal tradition, Aron's formative influences were mostly non-French and often radically anti-liberal thinkers. This book explains how, why, and with what consequences he belatedly defined and aligned himself with a French liberal tradition. It also situates Aron within the larger histories of Cold War liberalism and decolonization, re-evaluating his contribution to debates over totalitarianism, the end of ideology, and the Algerian War. By exposing the enduring importance of Aron's student political engagements for the development of his thought, Iain Stewart challenges the prevailing view of Aron's early intellectual trajectory as a journey from naïve socialist idealism to mature liberal realism, offering a new critical perspective on one of the twentieth century's most influential intellectuals.

    • The first intellectual history of Raymond Aron's role in the reconfiguration of liberal thought in the twentieth century
    • Provides an original contribution to emerging historiographies of the 'French liberal revival' and Cold War liberalism
    • Takes a critical perspective, replacing laudatory proclamations of Aron's importance in the history of liberal thought with a critical explanation of his position in this history
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    • Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2020, Choice Reviews.

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This thoroughly researched book is essential for anyone seeking to understand political theory in France during the 20th century. In addition to explaining the evolution of philosopher Raymond Aron's thought, the book situates his work in critical moments of French political history.' P. R. Babbitt, Choice

    'Iain Stewart has given us a lucidly written densely contextualized intellectual biography … I have nothing but praise for this engaging study. It is a pathbreaking book about Raymond Aron's intellectual development as a 'liberal.' It is the careful historical study of the stages and continuities of this dimension of his thought that we have long needed.' K. Steven Vincent, The European Legacy

    'a fruitful starting point.' Bryan-Paul Frost, Journal of Contemporary History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108735865
    • length: 317 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.464kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Intellectual politics and the crisis of democracy
    2. History and politics
    3. Anti-totalitarianism
    4. The end of ideology
    5. Raymond Aron and the French liberal tradition
    6. Raymond Aron and the liberal moment in late twentieth-century French thought
    Select bibliography

  • Author

    Iain Stewart, University College London
    Iain Stewart is Lecturer in Modern European History at University College London and a former fellow of the Institut d'études avancées de Paris. He is co-editor of In Search of the Liberal Moment: Democracy, Anti-totalitarianism and Intellectual Politics in France since 1950 (2016) with Stephen W. Sawyer.


    • Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2020, Choice Reviews.

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