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Hans Morgenthau. By: __________________. Born on February 17, 1904 - July 19, 1980 . Born in Germany. Became a professor at the university of Chicago.

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hans morgenthau

Hans Morgenthau

By: __________________


Born on February 17, 1904 - July 19, 1980

Born in Germany

Became a professor at the university of Chicago

Wrote a book Politics Among Nations, which defined the field of international relations theory in 1948 as it heralded the post-World War 2 paradigm shift in American thinking about diplomacy

political realism

Some claim that Morgenthau is the founder of international relations as an independent discipline. Before him, it was studied under history, political thought or international law

In the context of international relations, encompasses a variety of theories and approaches, all of which share a belief that states are primarily motivated by the desire for military and economic power or security, rather than ideals or ethics

Political Realism
principles of political realism

1. Political realism believes that politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature. In order to improve society it is first necessary to understand the laws by which society lives. The operation of these laws being impervious to our preferences, men will challenge them only at the risk of failure

Principles of Political Realism

2. The main signpost that helps political realism to find its way through the landscape of international politics is the concept of interest defined in terms of power. This concept provides the link between reason trying to understand international politics and the facts to be understood.

3. Realism assumes that its key concept of interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid, but it does not endow that concept with a meaning that is fixed once and for all. The idea of interest is indeed of the essence of politics and is unaffected by the circumstances of time and place.


4. Political realism is aware of the moral significance of political action. It is also aware of the ineluctable tension between the moral command and the requirements of successful political action.

5. Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. As it distinguishes between truth and opinion, so it distinguishes between truth and idolatry. All nations are tempted-and few have been able to resist the temptation for long-to clothe their own particular aspirations and actions in the moral purposes of the universe.


6. The difference, then, between political realism and other schools of thought is real, and it is profound. However much the theory of political realism may have been misunderstood and misinterpreted, there is no gainsaying its distinctive intellectual and moral attitude to matters political.

key parts

Know that Morgenthau lived in the 20th century and through the wars

  • Wrote a book that explained a new concept at the time

“Political Realism”

  • Know roughly the 6 principles of Political Realism
  • Know how Political Realism impacted our politics today

(realism, self interest, power)

Key Parts

Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (1948) New York NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

  • Scientific Man Versus Power Politics (1946)
  • Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.