Download e-book for kindle: Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas (2nd by Isaiah Berlin

By Isaiah Berlin

ISBN-10: 1400843235

ISBN-13: 9781400843237

During this amazing choice of essays, Isaiah Berlin, one of many nice thinkers of the 20th century, discusses the significance of dissenters within the historical past of ideas--among them Machiavelli, Vico, Montesquieu, Herzen, and Sorel. along with his strange powers of innovative new edition, 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 variation, which additionally encompasses 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 principles represented no longer an abandonment of philosophy yet a call to do philosophy by way of different, probably greater, ability. "His intuition advised him," Lilla writes, "that you research extra approximately an concept as an idea if you understand whatever approximately its genesis and comprehend why convinced humans came across it compelling and have been spurred to motion via it." This number of attention-grabbing highbrow pics 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)

Example text

An intrinsic part of the optimistic belief in steady general pro­ gress is the notion that all methods of investigation and research, all modes of knowing and understanding, are systematically inter­connected; that the presuppositions and methods of all forms of intellectual discovery can be ultimately derived from lvi • Roger Hausheer a small handful of principles of the highest imaginable degree of abstraction; and that the entire sphere of human knowledge grows all of a piece, since each segment of it interlocks with and enlarges every other.

The history of ideas, then, is a comparatively late-born and highly sophisticated child of advanced civilisation. At the earliest, it may be thought to have come into being during the last half of the eighteenth century, a close relative of historicism, pluralism and relativism, and of the various historically based comparative disciplines: anthropology, philology, linguistics, etymology, aesthetics, jurisprudence, sociology, ethnology. Its central preoccupation consists in a large-scale extension of the ancient injunction ‘know thyself ’ to the collective historical whole, the civilisation or culture, in which the individual self is embedded, and of which it is in no small measure a product.

This suggestion that there may be a collision between ultimate values with no means of rational arbitration between them, and the consequent conclusion that there is no one single path to human fulfilment, individual or collective, has proved deeply disturbing. It entails that the need for choice between ultimate, conflicting values, far from being a rare and anomalous experience in the lives of men, is in fact an intrinsic element in the human condition itself. 1 VI The earliest sustained attack on universal, rationalist schemas came from Vico, Hamann and Herder.

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Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas (2nd Edition) by Isaiah Berlin

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