Lost in Polemics:
: The Development of Anti-Realism in International Relations Theory

  • Robert Kammel

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


In this dissertation I provide a more accurate reading of Hans J. Morgenthau’s writings that lead to an understanding of his realism as a dynamic approach to politics in general and international politics in particular. This realism has two components. The first component, the ‘hard core’, consists of core concepts that can be understood as philosophical anchorages of Morgenthau’s realism, namely ‘the political’, the ethic of responsibility, the nature of men, the world, and reason, and finally, the national interest. The second dynamic component is a continuous reflection on and a commitment to the given historical and political circumstances. Morgenthau’s core concepts are, even from his own perception elusive. Hence, the second dimension is important to give meaning to these concepts in order to fill them with concrete content. From this understanding of realism the tyranny of false polarities dominating current international relations theory has to be reconsidered. Indeed, Hans Morgenthau's contribution leads us to an appreciation of limits: the limits of power, the limits of international law, and the limits of knowledge, which weaken our ability to understand. Considering the latter, the deep rifts that beset contemporary international politics are a major obstacle to find political solutions, even if transient, to urgent problems in the real world.
Date of Award2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University

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