Synopses & Reviews
The fruit of nearly fifteen years of discussion-in person and by letter-between world-famous British philosopher Isaiah Berlin and Dr. Beata Polanowska-Sygulska that sheds considerable light on Berlin's thinking, clarifying some of the central themes of his philosophy.
"In 1983, Polanowska-Sygulska was struggling with her doctoral thesis on 'controversies about the concept of liberty' when she got every grad student's dream opportunity: the chance to interrogate the subject of her research, philosopher Berlin. From then until his death in 1997, they corresponded through long letters as well as personal meetings, and Polanowska-Sygulska's record of these reveals both a young woman awed by the privilege of such tutoring and the kindness of the elderly Berlin, who was gratified by her interest and also stimulated by her questions, which forced him to re-examine his philosophical arguments. Polanowska-Sygulska wrote numerous articles based on these interactions, and some of them are reproduced here along with the letters and recorded conversations, which are helpfully edited to better reveal their themes, since Berlin often digressed from the topics his protégé wanted to discuss. Even the digressions make for interesting reading, since Berlin was learned but also engaged in the world (the decline and fall of the Soviet Union is a frequent concern), and his responses to then-current events illuminate his ideas. However, only readers who are already familiar with Berlin's ideas and with the course philosophy has taken in the last 200 years will get much out of the book; they will appreciate this portrayal of a generous and brilliant man, but casual readers will first have to read Berlin's writings to understand what Polanowska-Sygulska's conversations add to the picture." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) spent a long, distinguished career at Oxford University, where he was Professor of Social and Political Theory, a Fellow of All Souls College, and founding President of Wolfson College. Among his many books are Karl Marx, Russian Thinkers (including "The Hedgehog and the Fox"), The Age of Enlightenment, and Liberty (including "Historical Inevitability" and "Two Concepts of Liberty").
Beata Polanowska-Sygulska, Ph.D. (Cracow, Poland), works in the Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland, and is the author of two books in Polish on Isaiah Berlin, Isaiah Berlins Philosophy of Freedom and Visages of Liberalism, as well as many scholarly articles.