Scientific Man vs. Power Politics: A Pamphlet and Its Author between Two Academic Cultures

| March 2016
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Hans Morgenthau’s Scientific Man vs. Power Politics appeared in 1946, one year after he received tenure at the University of Chicago. Thus, the monograph demarcates the beginning of Morgenthau’s career in the United States, to which he had emigrated nine years earlier. Three main aspects seem important for understanding this work. The first is Morgenthau’s bewilderment about American political culture and, as he perceived it, its cheerful optimism about the betterment of politics, society, and humanity in general. The second aspect is the nature of the argument: Scientific Man is a dogmatic tract, an attempt to hammer home certain philosophical positions—positions that were largely unpopular in the U.S. social sciences in the 1940s (and later)—rather than a reflective scholarly elaboration of certain philosophical commitments. The third is Morgenthau’s place between two academic cultures: Morgenthau’s language in his American writings partly stems from, but also tries to leave behind, his European academic socialization. The monograph thus reflects the author’s peculiar situation, as he inhabits two sometimes crucially different semantic and cultural contexts, but fails to bridge or broker them.

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Category: Issue 30.1, Roundtable: Morgenthau in America

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