Against the current : essays in the history of ideas by Isaiah Berlin, Henry Hardy, Roger Hausheer, Mark Lilla

By Isaiah Berlin, Henry Hardy, Roger Hausheer, Mark Lilla

During this extraordinary number of essays, Isaiah Berlin, one of many nice thinkers of the 20 th century, discusses the significance of dissenters within the heritage of ideas--among them Machiavelli, Vico, Montesquieu, Herzen, and Sorel. together with his strange powers of imaginitive new version, Berlin brings to lifestyles unique minds that swam opposed to the present in their times--and nonetheless problem traditional knowledge. In a new Read more...

summary: during this awesome number of essays, Isaiah Berlin, one of many nice thinkers of the 20th century, discusses the significance of dissenters within the heritage of ideas--among them Machiavelli, Vico, Montesquieu, Herzen, and Sorel. together with his strange powers of resourceful new version, Berlin brings to lifestyles unique minds that swam opposed to the present in their times--and nonetheless problem traditional knowledge. In a brand new foreword to this corrected variation, which additionally features a new appendix of letters within which Berlin discusses and extra illuminates a few of its themes, famous essayist Mark

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They are not intended directly to illustrate or support (or for that matter attack or undermine) any single historical or political theory, doctrine or ideology; they range from such wholly diverse figures as Marx, Disraeli and Sorel to topics as apparently remote from one another as nationalism and the theory of knowledge; they are wholly exploratory and undogmatic, raising more tentative but often deeply unsettling questions than they claim to answer; and, above all, they represent an utterly independent, scrupulously open-minded, but deeply passionate search for truth.

Rather than pounce on arguments that leap off the page, you must initially suspend judgement and surrender to the author – reculer pour mieux sauter, as the French phrase goes. Berlin described it as a kind of ‘feeling-oneself-into’ the mind of someone grappling with a set of ideas, the same kind of sympathy J. G. Herder thought necessary to understand an alien culture. In Contre Sainte-Beuve Proust used a musical metaphor to describe how he used to read as a young man: As soon as I read an author, I quickly made out beneath the words a kind of tune that in each author is different from that of others, and without realising it I began to ‘sing along’, speeding or slowing or interrupting the notes as I read, marking their measures and returns as one does when singing, and waiting a certain time, depending on the song’s pace, before finally uttering the end of a word.

H. M. G. Köster1 IT WAS AN ANECDOTE HE liked to tell. In 1944, while working at the British Embassy in Washington, DC, Isaiah Berlin was called back to London at short notice, and it happened that the only plane available to take him was a loud, uncomfortable military bomber. Because the cabin wasn’t pressurised he had to wear an oxygen mask that kept him from speaking, and there were no lights either, so he couldn’t read. It was a long flight. ’2 While airborne, the story went, he had a small epiphany.

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