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Ebook Letters, 1928-1946 by Isaiah Berlin read! Book Title: Letters, 1928-1946
The author of the book: Isaiah Berlin
Language: English
ISBN: 052183368X
ISBN 13: 9780521833684
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 553 KB
Edition: Cambridge University Press
Date of issue: June 4th 2004

Read full description of the books Letters, 1928-1946:

Isaiah Berlin is one of the towering intellectual figures of the twentieth century, the most famous English thinker of the post-war era, and the focus of growing interest and discussion. Above all, he is one of the best modern exponents of the disappearing art of letter-writing. 'Life is not worth living unless one can be indiscreet to intimate friends, ' wrote Berlin to a correspondent. This first volume inaugurates a long awaited edition of his letters that might well adopt this remark as an epigraph. Berlin's life was well worth living, both for himself and for the world. Fortunately he said a great deal to his friends on paper as well as in person. Berlin's letters reveal the significant growth and development of his personality and career over the two decades covered within them. Starting with his days as an eighteen year old student at St. Paul's School in London, they cover his years at Oxford as scholar and professor and the authorship of his famous biography of Karl Marx. The letters progress to his World War II stay in the U.S. and finally, his trip to the Soviet Union in 1945-6 and return to Oxford in 1946. "Emotional exploitation, cannibalism, which I think I dislike more than anything else in the world." To Ben Nicolson, September 1937 "Valery delivered an agreeable but dull lecture here. He said words were like thin planks over precipices, and if you crossed rapidly nothing happened, but if you stopped on any of them and stared into the gulf you would get vertigo and that was what philosophers were doing." To Cressida Bonham Carter, March 1939 "I never don't moralize." To Mary Fisher, 18 April 1940 "I only feel happy when I feel the solidarity of the majority of people I respect with and behind me." To Marion Frankfurter, 23 August 1940 "Certainly no politics are more real than those of academic life, no loves deeper, no hatreds more burning, no principles more sacred." To Freya Stark, 12 June 1944 "Nobody is so fiercely bureaucratic, or so stern with soldiers and regular civil servants, as the don disguised as temporary government official armed with an indestructible superiority complex." To Freya Stark, 12 June 1944 "My view on this is that you will not find life in the country lively enough for persons of your temperament. Life in the country in England depends entirely on (a) motor cars (b) rural tastes. As you possess neither, it is my considered view that apart from a weekend cottage or something of that sort, life in the country would bore you stiff within a very short time." To his parents, 31 January 1944 "This country is undoubtedly the largest assembly of fundamentally benevolent human beings ever gathered together, but the thought of staying here remains a nightmare." To his parents, 31 January 1944 "I am a hopeless dilettante about matters of fact really and only good for a column of gossip, if that." To W. J. Turner, 12 June 1945 "England is an old chronic complaint: every day in the afternoon in the left knee and the left leg below the kneecap, tiresome, annoying, not bad enough to go to bed with, probably incurable and madly irritating but not necessarily unlikely to lead to a really serious crisis unless complications set in." To Angus Malcolm, 20 February 1946

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Ebook Letters, 1928-1946 read Online! Sir Isaiah Berlin was a philosopher and historian of ideas, regarded as one of the leading liberal thinkers of the twentieth century. He excelled as an essayist, lecturer and conversationalist; and as a brilliant speaker who delivered, rapidly and spontaneously, richly allusive and coherently structured material, whether for a lecture series at Oxford University or as a broadcaster on the BBC Third Programme, usually without a script. Many of his essays and lectures were later collected in book form.

Born in Riga, now capital of Latvia, then part of the Russian Empire, he was the first person of Jewish descent to be elected to a prize fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford. From 1957 to 1967, he was Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at the University of Oxford. He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1963 to 1964. In 1966, he helped to found Wolfson College, Oxford, and became its first President. He was knighted in 1957, and was awarded the Order of Merit in 1971. He was President of the British Academy from 1974 to 1978. He also received the 1979 Jerusalem Prize for his writings on individual freedom. Berlin's work on liberal theory has had a lasting influence.

Berlin is best known for his essay Two Concepts of Liberty, delivered in 1958 as his inaugural lecture as Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford. He defined negative liberty as the absence of constraints on, or interference with, agents' possible action. Greater "negative freedom" meant fewer restrictions on possible action. Berlin associated positive liberty with the idea of self-mastery, or the capacity to determine oneself, to be in control of one's destiny. While Berlin granted that both concepts of liberty represent valid human ideals, as a matter of history the positive concept of liberty has proven particularly susceptible to political abuse.

Berlin contended that under the influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant and G. W. F. Hegel (all committed to the positive concept of liberty), European political thinkers often equated liberty with forms of political discipline or constraint. This became politically dangerous when notions of positive liberty were, in the nineteenth century, used to defend nationalism, self-determination and the Communist idea of collective rational control over human destiny. Berlin argued that, following this line of thought, demands for freedom paradoxically become demands for forms of collective control and discipline – those deemed necessary for the "self-mastery" or self-determination of nations, classes, democratic communities, and even humanity as a whole. There is thus an elective affinity, for Berlin, between positive liberty and political totalitarianism.

Conversely, negative liberty represents a different, perhaps safer, understanding of the concept of liberty. Its proponents (such as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill) insisted that constraint and discipline were the antithesis of liberty and so were (and are) less prone to confusing liberty and constraint in the manner of the philosophical harbingers of modern totalitarianism. It is this concept of Negative Liberty that Isaiah Berlin supported. It dominated heavily his early chapters in his third lecture.

This negative liberty is central to the claim for toleration due to incommensurability. This concept is mirrored in the work of Joseph Raz.

Berlin's espousal of negative liberty, his hatred of totalitarianism and his experience of Russia in the revolution and through his contact with the poet Anna Akhmatova made him an enemy of the Soviet Union and he was one of the leading public intellectuals in the ideological battle against Communism during the Cold War.


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