TELOSscope: The Telos Press Blog

Morgenthau, Science, and Tragedy

Mark Chou’s “Morgenthau, the Tragic: On Tragedy and the Transition from Scientific Man to Politics Among Nations” appears in Telos 157 (Winter 2011). Read the full version online at the TELOS Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue here.

When Hans J. Morgenthau first penned Scientific Man vs. Power Politics, it was his scorn of modern science or “dogmatic scientism,” as he put it, that spoke most loudly. But with the publication of Politics Among Nations several years later, his concerns had shifted, as he set about to present a rational theory of international politics. In a matter of only two years, or so it seemed, Morgenthau’s tune had changed—from a clear denunciation of science to the espousal of a nascent science of International Relations. Why did Morgenthau so vehemently decry dogmatic scientism and all that it embodied in Scientific Man, only to establish a theory of international politics that would eventually inspire the “science” of International Relations? The answer, at least the one that this article entertains, was tragedy. Using the lens of tragedy, which Morgenthau first embraced in Scientific Man, this article offers a narrative of the seemingly paradoxical transition that occurs between Scientific Man and Politics Among Nations.

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