Freedom and Its Betrayal: Six Enemies of Human Liberty

Freedom and Its Betrayal: Six Enemies of Human Liberty

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 069115757X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


These celebrated lectures constitute one of Isaiah Berlin's most concise, accessible, and convincing presentations of his views on human freedom--views that later found expression in such famous works as "Two Concepts of Liberty" and were at the heart of his lifelong work on the Enlightenment and its critics. When they were broadcast on BBC radio in 1952, the lectures created a sensation and confirmed Berlin's reputation as an intellectual who could speak to the public in an appealing and compelling way. A recording of only one of the lectures has survived, but Henry Hardy has recreated them all here from BBC transcripts and Berlin's annotated drafts. Hardy has also added, as an appendix to this new edition, a revealing text of "Two Concepts" based on Berlin's earliest surviving drafts, which throws light on some of the issues raised by the essay. And, in a new foreword, historian Enrique Krauze traces the origin of Berlin's idea of negative freedom to his rejection of the notion that the creation of the State of Israel left Jews with only two choices: to emigrate to Israel or to renounce Jewish identity.

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tells us how he sat down at the roadside and wept and was beside himself, and how this was the central event of his entire life. The tone in which he communicates the answers to the ancient puzzles, both in the Social Contract and in other works, is exactly that of a man possessed by a single idea, of a maniac who suddenly sees a cosmic solution vouchsafed to him alone, somebody who for the first time in history has suddenly found the answer to a riddle which had for centuries tormented the whole

reasons, in order to punish him for the evil that he does. I do it because that is what his own inner, better, more real self would have done if only he had allowed it to speak. I set myself up as the authority not merely over my actions, but over his. This is what is meant by Rousseau’s famous phrase about the right of society to force men to be free. To force a man to be free is to force him to behave in a rational 50  •  Freedom and Its Betrayal manner. A man is free who gets what he

further question, ‘How in fact does the spirit work? What is the mechanism, what is the pattern?’ Hegel thought he had found the answer to that. He said that it worked according to what he called the dialectic. The dialectic for him really makes sense only in terms of thought or artistic creation; and he applies it to the universe because he thinks that in the universe is a kind of act of thought, or a kind of act of self-creation; self-creation, for there exists nothing else.1 In what way does

sense in which, say, the Darwinian or Newtonian systems are rational, because one could conceive of evidence against them; they can be tested, but the dialectic cannot; it is a kind of framework of things in general. In this metaphysical vision, what happens to human freedom? Hegel is very triumphant on this point. What is freedom but doing what I wish to do, getting what I want to get, obtaining from life what I am seeking for? I can get this only if I do not run against the laws which govern

other to extract out of the ruling class something which you are too weak to force them to deliver by sheer violence on your own part. So lawyers are people who are engaged in inventing good and bad reasons for circumventing the old, worn-out machinery of government, the old obsolete tradition which is stifling vast sections of the population; and metaphysicians are people, particularly in the eighteenth century, who perform the very necessary task of undermining the old religions. Christianity,

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