The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas

Pimlico (1990)
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Abstract

"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.

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