Synopses & Reviews
"Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made."--Immanuel Kant
Isaiah Berlin was one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century--an activist of the intellect who marshaled vast erudition and eloquence in defense of the endangered values of individual liberty and moral and political plurality. In The Crooked Timber of Humanity he exposes the links between the ideas of the past and the social and political cataclysms of our own time: between the Platonic belief in absolute truth and the lure of authoritarianism; between the eighteenth-century reactionary ideologue Joseph de Maistre and twentieth-century Fascism; between the romanticism of Schiller and Byron and the militant--and sometimes genocidal--nationalism that convulses the modern world.
This new edition features a revised text that supplants all previous versions, a new foreword in which award-winning novelist John Banville discusses Berlin's life and ideas, particularly his defense of pluralism, and a substantial new appendix that provides rich context, including letters by Berlin and previously uncollected writings, most notably his virtuoso review of Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy.
About the Author
Isaiah Berlin was a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He was renowned as an essayist and as the author of many books, among them Karl Marx, Four Essays on Liberty, Russian Thinkers, The Sense of Reality, The Proper Study of Mankind, and, from Princeton, Concepts and Categories, Personal Impressions, The Crooked Timber of Humanity, The Hedgehog and the Fox, The Roots of Romanticism, The Power of Ideas, and Three Critics of the Enlightenment. Henry Hardy, a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, is one of Isaiah Berlin's literary trustees. He has edited several other volumes by Berlin and is currently preparing Berlin's letters and remaining unpublished writings for publication.
Table of Contents
Foreword by John Banville
Editor's Preface xix
Note on References xxvi
The Pursuit of the Ideal 1
The Decline of Utopian Ideas in the West 21
Giambattista Vico and Cultural History 51
Alleged Relativism in Eighteenth-Century European Thought 73
Joseph de Maistre and the Origins of Fascism 95
Appendix: Violence and Terror 178
European Unity and Its Vicissitudes 186
The Apotheosis of the Romantic Will: The Revolt against the Myth of an Ideal World 219
The Bent Twig: On the Rise of Nationalism 253
Appendix to the Second Edition 279