This is the second of Raymond Aron's classic two-volume survey of the sociological tradition – arguably the definitive work of its kind. Aron explores the work of three figures who profoundly shaped sociology as it entered the twentieth century: Émile Durkheim, who continued Auguste Comte's quest for a science of society and a scientific validation of morality; Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian "neo-Machiavellian" who emphasized the oligarchic or elitist character of all societies; and the German sociologist Max Weber, who reflected critically on the prospects for human freedom in an age marked by bureaucratization and rationalization.
Aron presents rich portraits of these three thinkers, drawing out the enduring insights that remain in their work. At the same time he reflects critically on Durkheim's project for a science of society, Pareto's critique of humanitarianism, and Weber's tragic pessimism. Above all the book is remarkable for demonstrating Aron’s lifelong indebtedness to and divergence from the thought of Max Weber, the sociologist par excellence, in Aron's view.
This Routledge Classics edition includes an introduction by Daniel J. Mahoney and Brian C. Anderson.
"The lucid elegance of his thought and style and his ability to come to grips with the essential aspects of a thinker without being distracted by irrelevant detail combine to make this a most valuable contribution." – American Sociological Review
"One of his great gifts as a teacher was to provide one both with the intellectual capacities with which one could then establish one’s independence, and with the arguments one needed to preserve and promote the values one shared with him." – Stanley Hoffman, New York Review of Books
Introduction to the Routledge Classics edition
4. Emile Durkheim
5. Vilfredo Pareto
6. Max Weber