Sir Isaiah Berlin

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Berlin, Sir Isaiah

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 Tolstoy'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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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.
As Wardman himself, paraphrasing Sir Isaiah Berlin, pointedly reflects in the concluding sentence of the chapter devoted to Critique II: 'Can one reconcile the fox, who knows many things, with the hedgehog who knows one big thing?' (p.
So claims the British political philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin, who has likened Marx's overly generous reading of our human nature to a social scientist's unguarded generalization from observing flying fish: "All fish don't fly, and that finally is what is wrong with Marx." Marx falsely universalizes the presumed talents of the few and gives us a distorted vision of humanity and political possibilities.
These six lectures by Sir Isaiah Berlin were first delivered on the BBC Radio's Third Programme (now Radio Three) in 1952.
In his afterword [printed in the current collection of Talmon's essays, The Riddle of the Present and the Cunning of History], Sir Isaiah Berlin wrote that British historian Louis Namier was awed by Talmon's energy but felt he was too sentimental.
To my astonishment, on Monday morning I got a letter from Sir Isaiah Berlin, the nicest letter I ever received, saying, "Happened to be watching, strongly approve, come for lunch." That was the start of it.
Kekes's value pluralism is a descendant of the idea first launched by Sir Isaiah Berlin in his various writings, and then taken up by a variety of philosophers.
Professor Hobsbawm paused to tell his guest, Sir Isaiah Berlin, of the news of my appointment.