The first publication of this major work by Isaiah Berlin, regarded by many as the twentieth century’s greatest thinker. It is the only text he ever wrote in which he laid out in one connected account most of his key insights about the “romantic age.”.
Isaiah Berlin is one of the towering intellectual figures of the twentieth century, the most famous English thinker of the post-war era, and the focus of growing interest and discussion. Above all, he is one of the best modern exponents of the disappearing art of letter-writing. 'Life is not worth living unless one can be indiscreet to intimate friends,' wrote Berlin to a correspondent. This first volume inaugurates a long awaited edition of his letters that might well adopt this remark (...) as an epigraph. Berlin's life was well worth living, both for himself and for the world. Fortunately he said a great deal to his friends on paper as well as in person. Berlin's letters reveal the significant growth and development of his personality and career over the two decades covered within them. Starting with his days as an eighteen year old student at St. Paul's School in London, they cover his years at Oxford as scholar and professor and the authorship of his famous biography of Karl Marx. The letters progress to his World War II stay in the U.S. and finally, his trip to the Soviet Union in 1945-6 and return to Oxford in 1946. (shrink)
Isaiah Berlin's celebrated radio lectures on six formative anti-liberal thinkers were broadcast by the BBC in 1952. They are published here for the first time, fifty years later. They comprise one of Berlin's earliest and most convincing expositions of his views on human freedom and on the history of ideas--views that later found expression in such famous works as "Two Concepts of Liberty," and were at the heart of his lifelong work on the Enlightenment and its critics. Working with BBC (...) transcripts and Berlin's annotated drafts, Henry Hardy has recreated these lectures, which consolidated the forty-three-year-old Berlin's growing reputation as a man who could speak about intellectual matters in an accessible and involving way. In his lucid examination of sometimes complex ideas, Berlin demonstrates that a balanced understanding and a resilient defense of human liberty depend on learning both from the errors of freedom's alleged defenders and from the dark insights of its avowed antagonists. This book throws light on the early development of Berlin's most influential ideas and supplements his already published writings with fuller treatments of Helve;tius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, and Saint-Simon, with the ultra-conservative Maistre bringing up the rear. These thinkers gave to freedom a new dimension of power--power that, Berlin argues, has historically brought about less, not more, individual liberty. These lectures show Berlin at his liveliest and most torrentially spontaneous, testifying to his talents as a teacher of rare brilliance and impact. Listeners tuned in expectantly each week to the hour-long broadcasts and found themselves mesmerized by Berlin's astonishingly fluent extempore style. One listener, a leading historian of ideas who was then a schoolboy, was to recount that the lectures "excited me so much that I sat, for every talk, on the floor beside the wireless, taking notes." This excitement is at last recreated here for all to share. (shrink)
First published over fifty years ago, Isaiah Berlin's compelling portrait of the father of socialism has long been considered a classic of modern scholarship and the best short account written of Marx's life and thought. It provides a penetrating, lucid, and comprehensive introduction to Marx as theorist of the socialist revolution, illuminating his personality and ideas, and concentrating on those which have historically formed the central core of Marxism as a theory and practice. Berlin goes on to present an account (...) of Marx's life as one of the most influential and incendiary social philosophers of the twentieth century and depicts the social and political atmosphere in which Marx wrote. This edition includes a new introduction by Alan Ryan which traces the place of Berlin's Marx from its pre-World War II publication to the present, and elucidates why Berlin's portrait, in the midst of voluminous writings about Marx, remains the classic account of the personal and political side of this monumental figure. (shrink)
Liberty is a revised and expanded edition of the book that Isaiah Berlin regarded as his most important - Four Essays on Liberty, a standard text of liberalism, constantly in demand and constantly discussed since it was first published in 1969. Writing in Harper's, Irving Howe described it as 'an exhilarating performance - this, one tells oneself, is what the life of the mind can be'. -/- Berlin's editor Henry Hardy has revised the text, incorporating a fifth essay that Berlin (...) himself had wanted to include. He has also added further pieces that bear on the same topic, so that Berlin's principal statements on liberty are at last available together in one volume. Finally, in an extended preface and in appendices drawn from Berlin's unpublished writings he exhibits some of the biographical sources of Berlin's lifelong preoccupation with liberalism. These additions help us to grasp the nature of Berlin's 'inner citadel', as he called it - the core of personal conviction from which some of his most influential writing sprang. (shrink)
The essays collected in this new volume reveal Isaiah Berlin at his most lucid and accessible. He was constitutionally incapable of writing with the opacity of the specialist, but these shorter, more introductory pieces provide the perfect starting-point for the reader new to his work. Those who are already familiar with his writing will also be grateful for this further addition to his collected essays. The connecting theme of these essays, as in the case of earlier volumes, is the crucial (...) social and political role--past, present and future--of ideas, and of their progenitors. A rich variety of subject-matters is represented--from philosophy to education, from Russia to Israel, from Marxism to romanticism--so that the truth of Heine's warning is exemplified on a broad front. It is a warning that Berlin often referred to, and provides an answer to those who ask, as from time to time they do, why intellectual history matters. Among the contributions are "My Intellectual Path," Berlin's last essay, a retrospective autobiographical survey of his main preoccupations and "Jewish Slavery and Emancipation," the classic statement of his Zionist views, long unavailable in print. His other subjects include the Enlightenment, Giambattista Vico, Vissarion Belinsky, Alexander Herzen, G.V. Plekhanov, the Russian intelligentsia, the idea of liberty, political realism, nationalism, and historicism. The book exhibits the full range of his enormously wide expertise and demonstrates the striking and enormously engaging individuality, as well as the power, of his own ideas. "Over a hundred years ago, the German poet Heine warned the French not to underestimate the power of ideas: philosophical concepts nurtured in the stillness of a professor's study could destroy a civilization."--Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty , 1958. (shrink)
In this outstanding collection of essays, Isaiah Berlin, one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century, discusses the importance in the history of thought of dissenters whose ideas still challenge conventional wisdom--among them Machiavelli, Vico, Montesquieu, Herzen, and Sorel. With his unusual powers of imaginative re-creation, Berlin brings to life original minds that swam against the current of their times.
Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration gathers tributes, reflections, and commentaries on the great thinker and his philosophy, politics, and life-including contributions from Michael Ignatieff, Leon Wieseltier, Ronald Dworkin, Stephen Spender, and many others. "Some [essays], like Joseph Brodsky's tribute, are touchingly personal. Others, like G. A. Cohen's 'Isaiah's Marx, and Mine,' mingle personal reminiscences with a more theoretical look at Berlin's ideas. . . . The volume is a fitting tribute to a thinker famed for his erudition, eclecticism, and clarity of (...) style."--Merle Rubin, The Christian Science Monitor "One of the many merits of this rich and rewarding collection is the sense-very imperfectly conveyed here-it transmits of the tone of Berlin's writings and conversation, of the multiplicity of his interests and the variety of his achievements. . . . The essays testify to the character of Berlin's mind as a luminous prism, in which the cultural traditions of Russia, England and Judaism are marvelously refracted."--John Gray, Times Literary Supplement "[T]he collection testifies to the learning and profundity of Berlin's thought and, by way both of reminiscence and influence, to the charm and gaity of its expression."--Anthony Quinton, The Times of London. (shrink)
"Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made."--Immanuel Kant Isaiah Berlin was one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century--an activist of the intellect who marshaled vast erudition and eloquence in defense of the endangered values of individual liberty and moral and political pluralism. In the Crooked Timber of Humanity he exposes the links between the ideas of the past and the social and political cataclysms of our present century: between the Platonic belief (...) in absolute Truth and the lure of authoritarianism between the eighteenth-century reactionary ideologue Joseph de Maistre and twentieth-century fascism between the romanticism of Schiller and Byron and the militant--and sometimes genocidal--nationalism that convulses the modern world. (shrink)
The purpose of philosophy.--Verification.--Empirical propositions and hypothetical statements.--Logical translation.--Equality.--The concept of scientific history.--Does political theory still exist?--"From hope and fear set free.".