By Isaiah Berlin
Isaiah Berlin. opposed to the present: Essays within the historical past of rules. Viking Press, 1980. 448. ISBN: 0-670-10944-4 pages
In this awesome choice of essays, Isaiah Berlin, one of many nice thinkers of the 20 th century, discusses the significance within the historical past of considered dissenters whose principles nonetheless problem traditional wisdom--among them Machiavelli, Vico, Montesquieu, Herzen, and Sorel. together with his strange powers of creative new version, Berlin brings to lifestyles unique minds that swam opposed to the present in their times.
Isaiah Berlin was once the main esteemed highbrow determine within the English-speaking global. opposed to the present could be the so much consultant of [his] books. (Mark Feeney Boston Globe )
A historian of rules, [Berlin] has no equivalent; and what he has to claim is expressed in prose of remarkable lucidity and charm. (Anthony Storr self sustaining on Sunday )
Berlin expounds the tips of half-forgotten thinkers with luminous readability and ingenious empathy.... exhilarating to learn. (Keith Thomas Observer )
A so much striking highbrow fulfillment. There are few books released in our time which extra dazzlingly remove darkness from the most an important difficulties of western tradition and civilisation. (Goronwy Rees Encounter).
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Extra resources for Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas
A man chooses as he does for his own reasons, which are his own property and for which in the end he alone is responsible· Herzen's position has become increasingly attractive with time, particularly to a generation of men who have grown sceptical of all attempts to find final solutions to human problems; and it has been defended and xlviii INTRODUCTION developed with great ingenuity and conviction by Berlin, and pre«* sented as one of the most sane, adult and mature philosophies of our times. But does it lead to ethical relativism and subjectivism?
Yet this rebellion was largely confined to the spheres of literature, manners and the arts : the foundations on which the major dogmas of the Enlightenment rested remained untouched. The really violent and devastating attack, which shook these major assumptions once and for all, was launched by a band of dark, tortured and deeply disturbing thinkers from the remoter corners of the German-speaking world : the story of the far-reaching consequences and repercussions of what Berlin calls 'this German backlash against the xxxiu AGAINST T H E C U R R E N T French cultural domination of the western world*, both sinister and liberating, is very largely the history of modern thought.
IX With Herzen, we come to a thinker who most nearly anticipated the kind of radical pluralism which Berlin has himself expounded with such eloquence and persuasiveness in a steady stream of articles, essays and books. One of the chief influences on Herzen as a young man at the University of Moscow was that of Hegel. He did not, however, remain an orthodox Hegelian for long, but transformed Hegel's doctrines into something peculiarly his own. T h e chief result was scepticism of the capacity of any single doctrine or coherent conceptual schema to explain life and offer solutions to general human problems.
Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas by Isaiah Berlin