Sir Isaiah Berlin

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Berlin, Sir Isaiah,

1909–97, English political scientist, b. Riga, Latvia (then in Russia). His family moved to St. Petersburg when he was a boy and emigrated to London in 1921. He was educated at Oxford, where he became a fellow (1932), a professor of social and political theory (1957–67), and president of Wolfson College (1966–75). In The Hedgehog and the Fox (1953), Berlin explored Leo TolstoyTolstoy, Leo, Count,
Rus. Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoi (lyĕf), 1828–1910, Russian novelist and philosopher, considered one of the world's greatest writers.
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's view of irresistible historical forces, and in Historical Inevitability (1954) he attacked both determinist and relativist approaches to history as superficial and fallacious. His other works include Karl Marx (3d ed. 1963), Four Essays on Liberty (1969), Personal Impressions (1980), and the essay collection The Proper Study of Mankind (1997). He was knighted in 1957.


See his Letters, 1928–1946 (2004, ed. by H. Hardy); biographies by J. Gray (1996) and M. Ignatieff (1998).

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dissertation at the University of Kent, Silier (Bogazici U., Turkey) uses Isaiah Berlin's distinction between negative and positive conceptions of freedom as a starting point to analyze the meaning and the conditions of freedom.
If you take the Torah seriously but midrashically; if your understanding is informed and enriched by reference to Walter Benjamin, William Blake, Isaiah Berlin, Italo Calvino, Jacques Derrida, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, Soren Kirkegaard, Rav Kook, Thomas Mann, Stephen Mitchell, Susan Sontag, George Steiner, Wallace Stevens, Ludwig Wittgenstein, et al.; if you savor sentiments like "It is only by taking the real risks of language, by rupturing the autistic safety of silence, that the self can reclaim itself'; then I recommend highly The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus, by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg.
In A D P Briggs' celebration of Pushkin (published by Hazar Publishing) the late Sir Isaiah Berlin spoke of Pushkin's classical simplicity and purity, for Berlin his poetry was "as untranslatable as Racine or Sophocles".
Cassidy's rather dialectical concluding sentence -- that Marx's books "will be worth reading as long as capitalism endures" -- raises the intriguing question of whether that means they will outlast the relatively slender output of Isaiah Berlin.
Thus, he attacks modern liberalism without even discussing the work of today's pre-eminent defenders of liberalism, such as Isaiah Berlin or Ronald Dworkin.
Given the nature of his preoccupations, the puzzle is not why Hamann was forgotten but why Sir Isaiah Berlin, the Magus of Oxford, the octogenarian historian of ideas, has devoted a small book to reviving him.
KIRK VARNEDOE (chief curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture, the Museum of Modern Art, New York): My list includes Isaiah Berlin's Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas, a collection of essays about the irresolvable contradictions of not only philosophy but political philosophy in particular.