Isaiah Berlin's Counter-Enlightenment, Volume 93, Part 6

Front Cover
American Philosophical Society, 2003 - Philosophy - 196 pages
As the essays in this collection make plain, Isaiah Berlin invented neither the term "Counter-Enlightenment" nor the concept. However, more than any other figure since the eighteenth century, Berlin appropriated the term, made it the heart of his own political thought, and imbued his interpretations of particular thinkers with its meanings and significance. His diverse treatment of writers at the margins of the Enlightenment, who themselves reflected upon what they took to be its central currents, were at once historical and philosophical. Berlin sought to show that our patterns of culture, manufactured by ourselves, must be explained differently from the ways in which we seek to fathom laws of nature. Many of the essays in this volume were prepared for the International Seminar in memory of Sir Isaiah Berlin, held at the School of History in Tel Aviv University during the academic year 1999-2000.
 

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Page 11 - scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe ... The foolishness of God is
Page 66 - which uniformly grasps the substance of things feasible in human social life and expresses it with as many diverse modifications as these same things may have diverse aspects ... This common mental language is proper to our Science, by whose light linguistic scholars will be enabled to construct a mental vocabulary common to all the various articulate languages living and dead.
Page 22 - Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in,
Page 64 - there is a great uniformity among the actions of men, in all nations and ages, and that human nature remains still the same, in its principles and operations.
Page 152 - nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design." (An Essay on the History of Civil
Page 11 - in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow
Page 54 - the persistent research of almost all our literary life, because with our civilized natures we [moderns] cannot at all imagine and can understand only by great toil the poetic nature of these first men.
Page 55 - if the present be compared with the remote past, it is easily seen that in all cities and in all peoples there are the same desires and the same passions as there always were,
Page 35 - I gradually came to the conclusion that I should prefer a field in which one could hope to know more at the end of one's life than when one had begun; and so I left philosophy for the field of the history of ideas, which had for many years been of absorbing interest to me.
Page 119 - [F]rom the maggot up to man, the universal law of violent destruction of living things is unceasingly fulfilled. The entire earth, continually steeped in blood, is only an immense altar on which every living thing must be immolated without end, without restraint, without respite until the consummation of the world, until the extinction of evil, until the death of death.

About the author (2003)

Philosopher, political theorist, and essayist, Isaiah Berlin was born in 1909 to Russian-speaking Jewish parents in Latvia. Reared in Latvia and later in Russia, Berlin developed a strong Russian-Jewish identity, having witnessed both the Social-Democratic and the Bolshevik Revolutions. At the age of 12, Berlin moved with his family to England, where he attended prep school and then St. Paul's. In 1928, he went up as a scholar to Corpus Christi College in Oxford. After an unsuccessful attempt at the Manchester Guardian, Berlin was offered a position as lecturer in philosophy at New College. Almost immediately, he was elected to a fellowship at All Souls. During this time at All Souls, Berlin wrote his brilliant biographical study of Marx, titled Karl Marx: His Life and Environment (1939), for the Home University Library. Berlin continued to teach through early World War II, and was then sent to New York by the Ministry of Information, and subsequently to the Foreign Office in Washington, D.C. It was during these years that he drafted several fine works regarding the changing political mood of the United States, collected in Washington Despatches 1941-1945 (1981). By the end of the war, Berlin had shifted his focus from philosophy to the history of ideas, and in 1950 he returned to All Souls. In 1957, he was elected to the Chichele Chair of Social and Political Theory, delivering his influential and best-known inaugural lecture, Two Concepts of Liberty. Some of his works include Liberty, The Soviet Mind: Russian Culture under Communism, Flourishing: Selected Letters 1928 - 1946, Political Ideas in the Romantic Age: Their Rise and Influence on Modern Thought, and Unfinished Dialogue, Prometheus. Berlin died in Oxford on November 5, 1997.