RAYMOND ARON (1905-1983)

 RAYMOND ARON (1905-1983)

He was a small man with big ears, blue eyes, and a melancholic gaze, always extremely courteous.   He had been born into a secular, assimilated, and quite well-off Jewish family. He spent his childhood in Versailles, in a house with a tennis court, and in his early years he was quite a successful tennis player until his intellectual calling took him away from sporting activities. But he remained a rugby enthusiast, though he only followed games on television. In the École Normale, where he studied in the 1920s,  he  obtained the best  marks in his year but he  was so discreet and cautious in class discussions that his friend and fellow student Jean-Paul  Sartre said to him  one  day:  “Mon petit camarade, pourquoi as-tu peur de déconner?" (My little friend why are you so afraid of putting your foot in it?). Sartre never knew this fear and throughout his life, he often put his foot in it, with all the force of an intelligence that disguised the worst sophisms as truths. Raymond Aron, by contrast, maintained his decorum throughout  his productive life, which ended in late September  1983 in the Paris Palais de la Justice, where he had gone to testify on behalf of his friend Bertrand de Jouvenel in a libel case.  Then, as always, he gave his opinions  with  the  same moderation   and  good manners  he  had  shown  from his early




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