The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas by Isaiah Berlin

The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas

Isaiah Berlin
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“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”.

Publisher Description

“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”—Immanuel Kant

Isaiah Berlin 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.

Review
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 The perfect guide through the complex radical changes that have swept Western societies... A brilliant, convincing work ... humane, compassionate, important. San Francisco Chronicle Overwhelming intelligence ... [Berlin's] mind is captivating... His reflections ... strike at the heart of our most parroted beliefs. Washington Post Book World As a historian of ideas, [Berlin] has no equal; and what he has to say is expressed in prose of exceptional lucidity and grace. — Anthony Storr Independent on Sunday

Author Biography

Isaiah Berlin 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's
Literary Trustees. He has edited several other books by Berlin, and is currently preparing his letters and his remaining unpublished writings for publication.

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The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas