Pouvoir, puissance, and politics: Hans Morgenthau's dualistic concept of power?

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    Hans Morgenthau's concept of power is widely debated among scholars of International Relations. Superficial accounts present Morgenthau's concept of power in the Hobbesian tradition as a means of self-preservation; however, more thorough investigations demonstrate Morgenthau's psychogenic and praxeological understanding. By referring to Sigmund Freud and Max Weber, such accounts identify Morgenthauian power as the ability to dominate others. This article contributes to this discourse by demonstrating that Morgenthau separated power into two dualistic conceptualisations. Although analytically Morgenthau worked with a concept of power understood as domination, normatively – in reference to Friedrich Nietzsche and Hannah Arendt – he promoted a concept of power that focused on the will and ability to act together. Elaborating this dualistic concept has wider implications for current International Relations because it reminds scholars to be self-reflexive. In addition, it is argued that a Morgenthauian scholarship helps scholars to gain a more profound understanding of depoliticising tendencies in Western democracies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)349-365
    JournalReview of International Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright © British International Studies Association 2013. Published by Cambridge Journals.


    • Hans Morgenthau
    • power
    • international relations


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