Three Critics of the Enlightenment

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9780712664929: Three Critics of the Enlightenment

This book brings together for the first time three major studies from Isaiah Berlin's central intellectual project - to explain the opposition to the excessively scientific French Enlightenment by getting under the skin of its critics and giving a sympathetic account of their views. The contributions of these particular critics could hardly be more important. Giambattista Vico estabished that the humanties are and must remain crucially different from the sciences: J G Herder - sometimes called the father of European nationalism - originated populism, expressionism and pluralism (an idea which Berlin enriched and made powerfully his own); and the anti-rationalist J G Hamann lit the fuse of romanticism, the major movement to arise out of the various currents of hostility to Enlightenment thought. The issue between the advocates of the Enlightenment and these critics is today at least as fundamental as it was in its beginnings. With his customary humane understanding, Berlin analyses the ideas of three deeply original but unregarded thinkers, and demonstrates their disturbing relevance to the central issues of today's world.

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From the Back Cover:


"Isaiah Berlin's main preoccupation throughout his productive life was understand the nature of the modern reaction against the Enlightenment. These essays on Vico, Herder, and Hamann belong with his other profound and influential studies of the leading figures of what he called the Counter-Enlightenment. But they are also crucial for anyone hoping to understand Berlin's own analysis of modern life and politics, which has received increasing attention in recent years. Anyone interested in Berlin or those he studied will find this an essential volume."--Mark Lilla, University of Chicago


"Isaiah Berlin is among the finest intellectual historians of recent decades. Yet his position is somewhat peculiar: for while he is clearly a scholar of enormous erudition, the characteristic style of his work is closer to that of brilliant conversation than of conventional historical scholarship. His works on Vico, Herder, and Hamann deal with thinkers who were at odds with main currents of the Enlightenment. For anyone with a historical sense, the recrudescence of so many of the characteristic notions of the 'Counter-Enlightenment' under the rubric of 'postmodernism' is striking. The recovery of these ideas is all the more effective for being a critical one: Berlin reminds his readers of some of the unfortunate historical consequences of the ideas in question."--Jerry Z. Muller, Catholic University of America


About the Author:


Isaiah Berlin was, until his death in 1997, 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 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.

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Berlin, Isaiah
Editorial: Pimlico (2000)
ISBN 10: 0712664920 ISBN 13: 9780712664929
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Berlin, Isaiah
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Isaiah Berlin
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