Download Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas (2nd by Isaiah Berlin PDF

By Isaiah Berlin

During this remarkable choice of essays, Isaiah Berlin, one of many nice thinkers of the 20 th century, discusses the significance of dissenters within the background of ideas--among them Machiavelli, Vico, Montesquieu, Herzen, and Sorel. together with his strange powers of innovative new version, Berlin brings to existence unique minds that swam opposed to the present in their times--and nonetheless problem traditional wisdom.

In a brand new foreword to this corrected version, which additionally contains a new appendix of letters within which Berlin discusses and additional illuminates a few of its issues, famous essayist Mark Lilla argues that Berlin's choice to renounce a philosophy fellowship and develop into a historian of rules represented no longer an abandonment of philosophy yet a choice to do philosophy through different, maybe larger, ability. "His intuition informed him," Lilla writes, "that you examine extra approximately an concept as an concept if you understand whatever approximately its genesis and comprehend why sure humans discovered it compelling and have been spurred to motion by way of it." This number of interesting highbrow snap shots is a wealthy demonstration of that trust.

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Extra info for Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas (2nd Edition)

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For in so far as they proceed from a central vision of man and his capacities, and their transformation through historical time –­a vision which is richly ramified, complex, and incapable of completion –­they are bound lightly and naturally together at many hidden and unexpected levels. Time and again, Berlin raises and illuminates, in the light of vividly concrete historical examples, major issues with which he has dealt in a more abstract manner in his philosophical essays; issues which are not only at the core of his lifelong preoccupation with ideas, but of great intrinsic interest and importance in themselves, and at the forefront of attention today.

History is not yet done with its exploration of the limits and meanings of ‘human nature’. C. Wright Mills3 I Isaiah Berlin’s essays in the history of ideas are not written from a point of view. They are not intended directly to illustrate or support (or for that matter attack or undermine) any single historical or political theory, doctrine or ideology; they range Pensées 253. ‘Bentham’ (1838): Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, ed. J. M. Robson and others (Toronto/London, 1963–­91), x 91. 3 The Sociological Imagination (New York, 2000 [1959]), 171.

Xlviii • Roger Hausheer all these rationalist thinkers shared was the belief that somewhere, by some means, a single, coherent, unified structure of know­ledge concerning questions of both fact and value was in principle available. e. logically or causally –­interconnected, vast structures in which there should be no gaps left open for spontaneous, unattended developments, where everything that occurs should be, at least in principle, wholly explicable in terms of immutable general laws. It is this proud and shining column, which Berlin identifies as the central mainstay of the rational and scientific edifices of Western thought, which some of the thinkers in this volume undermined and caused to totter.

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