The Power of Ideas: Second Edition
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The essays collected in this new volume reveal Isaiah Berlin at his most lucid and accessible. He was constitutionally incapable of writing with the opacity of the specialist, but these shorter, more introductory pieces provide the perfect starting-point for the reader new to his work. Those who are already familiar with his writing will also be grateful for this further addition to his collected essays.
The connecting theme of these essays, as in the case of earlier volumes, is the crucial social and political role--past, present and future--of ideas, and of their progenitors. A rich variety of subject-matters is represented--from philosophy to education, from Russia to Israel, from Marxism to romanticism--so that the truth of Heine's warning is exemplified on a broad front. It is a warning that Berlin often referred to, and provides an answer to those who ask, as from time to time they do, why intellectual history matters.
Among the contributions are "My Intellectual Path," Berlin's last essay, a retrospective autobiographical survey of his main preoccupations; and "Jewish Slavery and Emancipation," the classic statement of his Zionist views, long unavailable in print. His other subjects include the Enlightenment, Giambattista Vico, Vissarion Belinsky, Alexander Herzen, G.V. Plekhanov, the Russian intelligentsia, the idea of liberty, political realism, nationalism, and historicism. The book exhibits the full range of his enormously wide expertise and demonstrates the striking and enormously engaging individuality, as well as the power, of his own ideas.
"Over a hundred years ago, the German poet Heine warned the French not to underestimate the power of ideas: philosophical concepts nurtured in the stillness of a professor's study could destroy a civilization."--Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty, 1958.
This new edition adds a number of previously uncollected pieces, including Berlin's earliest statement of the pluralism of values for which he is famous.
Lionel Adolphus, xviii Hebrew language: in Israel, 186 Heckscher, August, 284 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich: idealism, 4; on progress and historical development, 13 n, 144–5; reputation, 64; on history, 115; and idealists, 117; influence on Herzen, 121; influence on Marx, 139, 141, 143, 145, 147; on alienation, 147; and idea of reality, 166; Meinecke on, 257; Schelling succeeds as professor, 288; opposes German nationalism, 303; The Philosophy of Right, 116 Heine, (Christian Johann) Heinrich
– indeed the ideal of lucidity and impregnable certainty, in comparison with which all other claims to knowledge are defective – for Berkeley mathematics suggests that there are mythological entities which have no existence in the world. Geometrical figures for Berkeley are not ideal entities, free from the need that all real entities have to justify themselves by empirical observation, but are the contents of sensation no less than anything else. A line consists of a certain, in principle
IVAN AKSAKOV described his tours of the provincial centres of European Russia, he wrote: The name of Belinsky is known to every thinking young man, everyone who is hungry for a breath of fresh air in the reeking bog of our provincial life […]. If you need an honest man capable of showing compassion for the oppressed in their piteous misfortune, or an honest judge, not afraid of a fight, go and look in the provinces among Belinsky’s followers.1 Obviously we are dealing with a major phenomenon of
way (his friends called him ‘Bessarione Furioso’) until the last possible moment and then he wrote in a kind of fury for nights and days. His unique quality as a literary critic, the quality which he possesses to a degree scarcely equalled by anyone in the West, is the astonishing freshness and passion with which he reacts to any and every literary impression. It is this that distinguishes him from other accomplished critics: his vision is wholly direct, there is nothing between him and the
worlds, and wrote with a particular kind of self-consciousness alien to a normal member of a recognised community. There never was so consciously German a composer as Mendelssohn: he set himself to revive the national heritage contained in the Protestant liturgy; he rediscovered and reinstated the great J. S. Bach; he wrote the Reformation Symphony to the greater glory of his adopted Church; towards the end of his life he had become a great neo-Lutheran musician as neither Schumann, nor even