Associate Professor of History, Boston College; Local Affiliate & Seminar Co-chair, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
February 20, 2018
4:15pm - 6:00pm
Hoffmann Room, Adolphus Busch Hall
No one did more to promote the thought of Raymond Aron in the United States than his mentee Stanley Hoffmann. Aron, the French Cold War liberal, profoundly influenced Hoffmann's thinking on international relations theory and French political history. In many ways some of Hoffmann's most profound political insights of the 1950s and 1960s were appropriations of Aron's thought that he was the first to introduce in the United States. Yet by the 1970s, Hoffmann began to distance himself from the conservative turn in Aron's thought. He criticized Aron's views of May 1968, his negative thinking on the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, and misjudgments concerning US military decline. This paper will examine the intellectual evolution of Hoffmann and Aron's relationship from 1952 to 1983. It will argue that Hoffmann's thinking is most faithful to Aron's liberal thought of the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s, and, therefore must be distanced from the American neoconservative appropriation of Aron's starting in the 1990s.