Former Laureates

Raymond Aron

Raymond Aron


To mark the 25th anniversary of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation in 1983, four Erasmus Prizes were awarded. The recipients were Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Leszek Kolakowski and Marguerite Yourcenar.

Raymond Aron was born in Paris in 1905. He attended the École Normale Supérieure, where among his fellow students were Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone Weil. Between 1930 and 1933 he studied in Germany, an experience which turned out to have great influence on his philosophical and sociological ideas. During the Second World War he worked in London as the editor of La France Libre. After the war he was strongly involved in journalism as a political commentator for Le Figaro and L’Express. Raymond Aron showed with his methodological, sociological, polemological, philosophical and journalistic work that dogmatic egalitarianism leads to tyranny rather than equality. He was always strongly opposed to Marxism and Communism and emphasised the lasting value of pluralism and the search for ‘le juste milieu’. From 1970 onwards he was Professor at the Collège de France. He made a major contribution to the philosophy of history through his Penser la guerre, Clausewitz and other works. Raymond Aron died in Paris, in 1983, shortly before the award ceremony.

Mme Aron and Leszek Kolakowski donated their prize money to the ‘Fondation pour une Entraide Intellectuelle Européenne’ to be used for travel grants for Eastern European writers, scholars and artists.