As an engaged spectator raised in the tradition of Cartesian rationalism, Raymond Aron (1905-1983) produced an impressive oeuvre that included not only reflections on abstract topics such as philosophy of history, and the virtues and limitations of liberal democracy, but also well-informed commentaries on concrete issues such as the war in Algeria, the student’s revolt of May 1968, American foreign policy, and the Soviet Union. I take up a few key themes that shed light on Aron’s views on the role, limits, and possibility of moderation in political life. I also address the issue of political judgment and draw upon a representative selection from Aron’s writings covering his entire career.
Aurelian Craiutu is Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the author and editor of several books, including Faces of Moderation: The Art of Balance in an Age of Extremes (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), A Virtue for Courageous Minds: Moderation in French Political Thought, 1748-1830 (Princeton University Press, 2012), Tocqueville on America after 1840 (Cambridge University Press, 2009; with Jeremy Jennings), America through European Eyes (Penn State University Press, 2009, with Jeffrey C. Isaac), and Madame de Staël’s Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution (2008).