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Political ideas in the romantic age - Isaiah Berlin

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Political ideas in the romantic age - their rise and influence on modern thought
Isaiah Berlin
Paperback / softback
Princeton University Press
UK Publication Date

It is sometimes thought that the renowned essayist Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) was incapable of writing a big book. But in fact he developed some of his most important essays--including "Two Concepts of Liberty" and "Historical Inevitability"--from a book-length manuscript that he intended to publish but later set aside. Published here for the first time, Political Ideas in the Romantic Age is the only book in which Berlin lays out in one continuous account most of his key insights about the history of ideas in the period that he made his own--the Romantic age. Distilling his formative early work in the history of ideas, the book also contains much that is not found elsewhere in his writings. The last of Berlin's posthumous books, it is of great interest both for his treatment of the subject and for what it reveals about his intellectual development.

Written for a series of lectures at Bryn Mawr College in 1952, and heavily revised and expanded by Berlin afterward, the book argues that the political ideas of the Romantic age are still largely our own--down to the language and metaphors they are expressed in. Vividly expounding the central political ideas of leading European thinkers in the period 1760-1830, including Helvetius, Condorcet, Rousseau, Saint-Simon, Hegel, Schelling, and Fichte, the book is written in Berlin's characteristically accessible style.

The book has been carefully prepared by Berlin's longtime editor Henry Hardy, and Joshua L. Cherniss provides an illuminating introduction that sets it in the context of Berlin's life and work.

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Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) was a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University. His books include Karl Marx, Liberty, and, from Princeton, Against the Current, The Crooked Timber of Humanity, The Roots of Romanticism, The Power of Ideas, Three Critics of the Enlightenment, and Freedom and Its Betrayal. Henry Hardy, one of Berlin's literary trustees and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford University, has edited many of Berlin's books. Joshua L. Cherniss is completing a doctorate at Oxford University on Berlin's political thought.

"At a time when the recrudescence of romantic themes has accompanied numerous new political foundings in the post-Soviet era, and in the turmoil and realignments in the Middle East and Africa, there is a refreshing clarity in this work, and a robust comprehensiveness to his commentary on romanticist ideas--romanticism insinuated exalted, but usually volatile, new ideas in old containers. Its beguiling grandeur obscured its dangers. Berlin offers incisively critical assessments of its leading thinkers."---Peter Emberley, International Political Science Review

"Indispensable for anyone interested in the history of ideas and the development of liberal thought, it contains most of the central themes of Berlin's work, together with some of its recurring ambiguities."---John Gray, New York Review of Books

"Those already interested in Berlin's scholarship will find the origins here of his broader contributions to the 'history of ideas' while at his intellectual peak."---Ann Frank Wake, The Historian

"[This book] is worth a look for anyone interested in a kind of original formulation of Berlin's ideas, but it also provides a new path into a great mind for those who are not yet familiar with him."---Brandon Turner, Perspectives on Political Science

"Political Ideas in the Romantic Age makes an intriguing and provocative contribution to the history of ideas, and also to the study of Berlin's own thought. The ideas Berlin examines are intrinsically interesting and hugely influential. The book integrates Berlin's analysis of liberty with his reading of the debate between the Enlightenment and the counter-Enlightenment to an extent not found in his other works. And the editing is as meticulous as anything done by Henry Hardy, who is the best possible editor of any text by Berlin."-George Crowder, Flinders University, Australia, author of Isaiah Berlin: Liberty and Pluralism

"Berlin's text is substantially rich and essential for understanding the foundations of his early intellectual encounters with the minds of the Enlightenment and the Romantic age."

"[Political Ideas in the Romantic Age] contains, in embryo, the main ideas that were to dominate [Berlin's] thought."---Raymond Carr, Spectator

"An absorbing and impressive new book . . . [that] says that we still live off the intellectual capital produced by the great thinkers of the romantic age, roughly 1760 to 1830. We think as they thought. We speak as they spoke."---Robert Fulford, National Post

"In this volume, we have one of the most central sources for much of Berlin's thought. What makes Berlin such a compelling historian, and one of the very few of whom it will always be said that he is a pleasure to read, was the way that he got under the skin of people whose opinions he found, after considered thought, abhorrent. His ideas are still worth debating today, and for the foreseeable future."---Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

Keyword Index
Political science - Philosophy.
Country of Publication
New Jersey
Number of Pages

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