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.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the Routledge Classics edition
4. Emile Durkheim
5. Vilfredo Pareto
6. Max Weber
Raymond Aron was the foremost political and social theorist of post-World War Two France. Born in Paris in 1905 he studied at the Ecole Normale Superieur, where he met Jean-Paul Sartre, later to become a life-long friend and intellectual sparring partner. After the war he taught at the Sorbonne from 1955-1968, also maintaining a long commitment to journalism, first in Le Figaro then in L’Express. He was one of a handful of scholars to have two books appear on the Times Literary Supplement‘s 100 Most Influential Books since World War II: The Opium of the Intellectuals (1955) and Memoirs (1983).
"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