Ştefan Zeletin (1882- 1934) – a philosopher, an economist and a sociologist – is one of the household names of Romanian interwar liberalism. He graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy and Classical Philology in Iaşi, and in 1914 he defended his doctoral thesis (and was granted magna cum laude) at the University of Berlin. After finalizing his studies, Zeletin taught at the University of Iaşi.
Concerning his work, Ştefan Zeletin did not have the same attitude towards the two aspects of his thought: philosophy and sociology. He considered himself a philosopher who failed to complete his system of thought only because of the tough circumstances. Persuaded that there is an organic connection – yet to be discovered – between the economic life of a country, on one hand, and the political, legal and cultural institutions, on the other, (Claudian 1935) Ștefan Zeletin began his sociological writings, which marked the political and cultural life of those times.
The sociological and political works, which had made him known in several settings, were viewed by Zeletin as an episode within his activity, which he would have wanted to be focused on purely philosophical works. The author explains the approach to the practical aspects of social reality by the fact that he was determined to attend various events, which he felt the need to understand. An event that marked him deeply was the War of 1916-1918, to which he took part as an infantry officer; this event drew him closer to the often-disappointing reality of the Romanian society in an ongoing process of construction. “Hence, I decided to make the ultimate sacrifice: to renounce, for now, to any philosophical activity, to get to know our society just like it is and to try to give back to it something that may be in its interest. This also helped me fulfil an ardent desire I had felt on the front where, the carbine on my shoulder, I saw our society collapse like a cardboard castle.” (Zeletin 1927 p. 276) This article aims at unravelling several aspects regarding the life, the work and the sociological view of the author.