“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made”.—Immanuel Kant. Philosopher Isaiah Berlin
explores the complex, radical changes that have swept Western society as he proves to be “an activist of the intellect”. “A beautifully patterned tapestry of philosophical thought. . . . A history of ideas that possesses all the drama of a novel, all the immediacy of headline news”.—“The New York Times”.
“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”—Immanuel Kant
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 pluralism. In the “Crooked Timber of Humanity” he exposes the links between the ideas of the past and the social and political cataclysms of our present century: 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.
was a Fellow of All Souls and New College, Professor of Social and Political Theory, and founding President of Wolfson College. He also held the Presidency of the British Academy. He died in 1997. Henry Hardy is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, and is one of Isaiah Berlin
Literary Trustees. He has edited several other books by Berlin, and is currently preparing his letters and his remaining unpublished writings for publication.