- Paperback: 667 pages
- Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (31 December 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374527172
- ISBN-13: 978-0374527174
- Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 4.7 x 20.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 635 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 114,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Proper Study of Mankind Paperback – 2 Aug 2000
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"Berlin . . . addresses his essays to the general reader, and he speaks with such infectious energy that he sweeps us up and carries us with him into territory that had seemed inaccessible. He becomes everyman's guide to everything exciting in the history of ideas." --Robert Darnton, The New York Review of Books
"No one makes more sense of the intellectual chaos of the modern world, no one has more searching perceptions of the need and the limits of human judgment, no one embodies more realistically and intrepidly the hope of human reason." --Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Washington Post Book World
About the Author
Isaiah Berlin (1909-97) was born in Riga, Latvia, and immigrated to England in 1921. At Oxford, he was a Fellow of New College and of All Souls, and founding president of Wolfson College.
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PLEASE NOTE: On June 23, 1999, I, Tom Dolan, posted an earlier version of the above review, under the name “A Customer.” On November 3, 2010, D. Woods posted the following comment: "Bravo, I really enjoyed the writing ability of the reviewer. Superb!"; On August 4, 2011, Ataraxia concurred: "Yes, he himself is quite the poet!" Then, on May 16, 2012, Akhilesh Pillalamarri posted the following comment: "After years of being on Amazon.com, this is still one of the most well written reviews I've ever read" I am truly grateful to D. Woods, Ataraxia, and Akhilesh Pillalamarri for their kind and encouraging comments. Thus inspired, I posted individualized comments thanking each of them, one by one. Unfortunately, however, their comments and mine seem to have disappeared from Amazon, as has the 1999 version of my review. Be that as it may, the comments of D. Woods, Ataraxia, and Akhilesh Pillalamarri remain safe and secure in my computer, in my mind, in my heart, and in the past. As for the future, let us hope that their comments, now quoted above, will remain here on Amazon, together with my review, re-posted May 7, 2018. Thank you! Sincerely yours, Tom Dolan, J.D.
In ``Two Concepts of Liberty,'' he examines the interplay and divergence between what he terms positive and negative liberty. Negative liberty is for Berlin, freedom from coercion. Positive liberty is the desire for the individual to be his own master. Superficially, there seems to be little difference between the two, but in political terms they are in constant tension, and have yielded both democratic and authoritraian systems. Berlin concludes this masterful analysis by quoting economist Joseph Schumpeter: `` `To realise the realtive valdity of one's convictions, and yet stand for them unflichingly is what distinguishes a civilzed man from a barbarian.' '' But Berlin adds: ``To demand more than this is perhaps a deep and incurable metaphysical need; but to allow it to determine one's practice is a symptom of an equally deep, and more dangerous, moral and political immaturity.''
I have often been struck by the philosophical similarities between Berlin and Albert Camus. Humanity, they both conclude, cannot survive without the knowledge that no single idea has the right to suppress other ideas or those who hold them. Berlin, throughout this wise and wonderful book, makes this case with as much wit, flair and intellectual depth as his great French contemporary. His message, for those with the courage and intellect to grasp it, could not be more timely in an age when ideology has trumped governing in America.
Insights and reflections about the nature of History -Philosophy - Knowledge and all things important to ponder deeply in a context that only a genius can provide.
A few pages and then you have to stop and think - repeat this over again and again - AND soon you realize what information and knowledge can become in the hands of a genius like Berlin.