Commentary

In Today’s Turbulent World We Need Berlin’s Children

- David Herman, Standpoint, May 2016.
Excerpt: In May last year Timothy Garton Ash tweeted from China, “Wonderful to see Isaiah Berlin up there among ‘All Sages’ in Wangsheng bookstore here in Beijing.” Garton Ash attached a picture of a wall of framed photographs of leading modern… More

Notes on Liberty

- John Gray, Literary Review, September 2015.
Excerpt: Today the thought that democracy can be repressive of liberty is all but forbidden. If a democratically elected government persecutes minorities, we are told, the reason can only be that democracy isn’t working properly. Berlin embodied an older… More

An Affirmative Defense of the Liberal Tradition by Mark Blitz

- Mark Blitz, "An Affirmative Defense of the Liberal Tradition," Library of Law and Liberty, February 23, 2015.
Mark Blitz reviews and discusses Isaiah Berlin’s thought in this essay at Library of Law and Liberty. Excerpt: Freedom and Its Betrayal consists of reconstructions from transcripts and drafts of six lectures that Isaiah Berlin broadcast in 1952 on the… More

A Mind and Its Time: The Development of Isaiah Berlin’s Political Thought

- Cherniss, Joshua L. A Mind and Its Time: The Development of Isaiah Berlin’s Political Thought, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.  
From the Publisher: “A Mind and its Time offers the most detailed account to date of the genesis and development of Isaiah Berlin’s political thought, philosophical views, and historical understanding. Drawing on both little-known published… More

Isaac and Isaiah: The Covert Punishment of a Cold War Heretic

- Caute, David. Isaac and Isaiah: The Covert Punishment of a Cold War Heretic. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2013.
From the Publisher: “Rancorous and highly public disagreements between Isaiah Berlin and Isaac Deutscher escalated to the point of cruel betrayal in the mid-1960s, yet surprisingly the details of the episode have escaped historians’ scrutiny. In this… More

Isaiah Berlin and the Politics of Freedom: ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ 50 Years Later

- Baum, Bruce and Robert Nichols, (eds.). Isaiah Berlin and the Politics of Freedom: ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ 50 Years Later. New York and London: Routledge, 2013.
From the Publisher: “Since his death in 1997, Isaiah Berlin’s writings have generated continual interest among scholars and educated readers, especially in regard to his ideas about liberalism, value pluralism, and “positive” and… More

“Isaiah Berlin and the Humanity of History”

- von Bismarck, Helene, “Isaiah Berlin and the Humanity of History.” The British Scholar Society, November 2012.  
Excerpt: “Ideally, every historian ought to give his own methodology the same amount of consideration that he dedicates to the historic events he is examining. A good way to start is to read some of the writings by Isaiah Berlin, one of the most famous,… More

“What is Jewish (If Anything) about Isaiah Berlin’s Philosophy?”

- Dubnov, Arie. “What is Jewish (If Anything) about Isaiah Berlin’s Philosophy?” MDPI: 2012.
Abstract: “This paper has two central aims: First, to reappraise Isaiah Berlin’s political thought in a historically contextualized way, and in particular: to pay attention to a central conceptual tensions which animates it between, on the one hand,… More

Isaiah Berlin: The Journey of a Jewish Liberal

- Dubnov, Arie M. Isaiah Berlin: The Journey of a Jewish Liberal. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.  
From the Publisher: “This study offers a fresh reappraisal of the philosopher, political thinker, and historian of ideas Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) from childhood to the height of his intellectual career. It provides the first historically… More

Encounters with Isaiah Berlin: Story of an Intellectual Friendship

- Walicki, Andrzej. Encounters with Isaiah Berlin: Story of an Intellectual Friendship. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2011.  
From the Publisher: “The volume contains Isaiah Berlin’s letters to his Polish friend, Andrzej Walicki, and Walicki’s detailed account of Berlin’s role in his life. Berlin actively promoted Walicki’s books on Russian intellectual history not… More

“Some Remarks on Isaiah Berlin”

- Khachaturian, Rafael. “Some Remarks on Isaiah Berlin.” Dissent Magazine, August 2010.  
Excerpt: “Last year’s centennial of Isaiah Berlin’s birth saw yet another revival of interest in his life and thought. Thanks largely to the indefatigable Henry Hardy, his dedicated editor who recently introduced the world to a new collection of… More

The Book of Isaiah by Henry Hardy

- Hardy, Henry (ed.). The Book of Isaiah: Personal Impressions of Isaiah Berlin. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press in association with Wolfson College, Oxford, 2009.
From the Publisher: “Isaiah Berlin was born a century ago. One of the most celebrated British thinkers of the twentieth century, he was a tireless champion of freedom and diversity against control and conformity. His generous, open vision of life is… More

“Isaiah Berlin, Beyond the Wit”

- Goldstein, Evan. “Isaiah Berlin, Beyond the Wit.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. November, 2009.
Excerpt: “Isaiah Berlin—renowned liberal theorist, historian of ideas, Oxford don, cultural gadfly—was one of the great raconteurs of his generation. According to Robert Darnton, a professor of history at Harvard University, Berlin holding forth… More

“Isaiah Berlin: The Free Thinker”

- Fraser, Nick. “Isaiah Berlin: The Free Thinker.” The Independent, May 2009.
Excerpt: “Next week the faithful will assemble to mark the centenary of the philosopher Isaiah Berlin. He’ll be celebrated in Jerusalem, which he loved, in Harvard where he taught; and in Oxford, which, in his rumpled Savile Row suits and academic… More

“Berlin My Hero”

- Cartwright, Justin, “Berlin My Hero,” Jewish Quarterly, February, 2009.
Excerpt: “I can sum it up simply by calling myself a wannabe Jew. From my earliest days I have had the sense that Jews embody the distillation of what it is to be human. As if being Jewish were somehow a more extreme version of being human. Perhaps this… More

The One and the Many: Reading Isaiah Berlin

- Crowder, George, and Henry Hardy (eds). The One and the Many: Reading Isaiah Berlin, Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007.  
From the Publisher: “Isaiah Berlin is widely acknowledged as a major figure in twentieth-century political philosophy and the history of ideas. His famous Oxford inaugural lecture, Two Concepts of Liberty, especially the last, crucial, section, entitled… More

“Berlin, Liberalism in the Face of Diversity”

- Crowder, George. “Berlin, Liberalism in the Face of Diversity,” resetdoc.org. June, 2007.  
Excerpt: “An increase of complexity, a multiplication of the quests for an identitarian acknowledgement, an erosion of the modern instruments for conflict resolution: contemporary world is challenging philosophical thought with complex ethical and… More

“The Spectacles of Isaiah Berlin”

- Inbari, Assaf. “The Spectacles of Isaiah Berlin.” Azure Online, 2006  
Excerpt: “Honest liberals know that they are not pluralists. They know that the liberal worldview does not recognize the validity of other worldviews, and that it aspires—using all the economic, media, and military means at its disposal—to make… More

“Was Liberalism’s Philosopher-in-Chief a Conservative?” by Michael Knox Beran

- Michael Knox Beran “Was Liberalism’s Philosopher-in-Chief a Conservative?” city-journal.org, Winter 2006.
Excerpt: “Sir Isaiah (pronounced aye-ZYE-ah) Berlin, who died in 1997 at 88, was one of the last century’s notable talkers. “One was startled from the beginning,” Arthur Schlesinger said, “by the glittering rush of words and wit, the dazzling… More

Isaiah Berlin: A Value Pluralist and Humanist View of Human Nature and the Meaning of Life

- Aarsbergen-Ligtvoet, Connie. Isaiah Berlin: A Value Pluralist and Humanist View of Human Nature and the Meaning of Life. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2006.
From the Publisher: “Value pluralism, a philosophical perspective belonging to the humanist and liberal family, is meeting with increasing attention and support in contemporary political and moral philosophy. Its starting point is that (personal and… More

“Isaiah Berlin’s Two Concepts of Liberty”

- Toscano, Roberto, “Isaiah Berlin’s Two Concepts of Liberty."    
Excerpt: “It has always been difficult, if not impossible, to categorise Isaiah Berlin according to specific intellectual disciplines: Was he a «historian of thought» or a political philosopher? Berlin himself, with his eminently critical mind and… More

“Political Science and Political Understanding: Isaiah Berlin on the Nature of Political Inquiry”

- Hanley, Ryan P. “Political Science and Political Understanding: Isaiah Berlin on the Nature of Political Inquiry.” American Political Science Review: 98/2: 327–39, 2004.  
Abstract: “Isaiah Berlin is remembered for his positive/negative liberty distinction and his value pluralism, but he was also an active participant in the debate over the nature of political inquiry. This essay argues that his neglected contribution to… More

Isaiah Berlin: Liberty and Pluralism

- Crowder, George. Isaiah Berlin: Liberty and Pluralism. Cambridge: Polity, 2004.
From the Publisher: “Isaiah Berlin was one of the leading political thinkers of the twentieth century, and his work continues to attract admiration and debate. In Isaiah Berlin: Liberty, Pluralism and Liberalism, George Crowder provides both an… More

Isaiah Berlin’s Counter-Enlightenment

- Mali, Joseph, and Robert Wokler (eds.). Isaiah Berlin's Counter-Enlightenment. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 93 No 3, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2003. Enlightenment, counter-enlightenment
From the Publisher: “As the essays in this collection make plain, Isaiah Berlin invented neither the term “Counter-Enlightenment” nor the concept. However, more than any other figure since the eighteenth century, Berlin appropriated the… More

“A Berlin for Historians”

- Cracraft, James. "A Berlin for Historians." History and Theory, 41, Oct. 2002, pp. 277-300.
Abstract: “On his death in 1997 Isaiah Berlin was widely hailed as a leading philosopher of political liberalism. This article takes the position that Berlin’s philosophical views, particularly those on freedom and cultural pluralism, can also be… More

“Interpreting Berlin’s Liberalism”

- Riley, Jonathan, “Interpreting Berlin's Liberalism,” American Political Science Review, 95: 283–95, 2001.
Abstract: “I argue that Isaiah Berlin’s pluralistic liberalism is best interpreted as a sophisticated form of liberal rationalism, as Berlin himself suggests. His value pluralism, even if it is viewed (as his critics typically view it, with… More

The Legacy of Isaiah Berlin

- Lilla, Mark, Ronald Dworkin and Robert B. Silvers (eds.). The Legacy of Isaiah Berlin. New York: New York Review Books; London: Granta, 2001.  
From the Publisher: “Looks at the intellectual legacy left by the influential philosopher Isaiah Berlin, and the repercussions his thought has had upon moral, political, and cultural ideas. Includes contributions of scholars and writers who engaged… More

“Freedom and Money”

- Cohen, G. A. “Freedom and Money."  
Excerpt: “Although I was devoted to Isaiah, and although he was bountifully kind to me, we were not of one mind on political questions, and we were also not of one mind on those academic questions that mattered, to each of us, because of the political… More

“The Don as Magus: Isaiah Berlin”

- Annan, Noel. ‘The Don as Magus: Isaiah Berlin,’ in Noel Annan. The Dons: Mentors, Eccentrics and Geniuses. London: HarperCollins, 1999.
From the Publisher: “For two hundred years Oxford and Cambridge Universities were home to some of Britain’s greatest teachers and intellects, each forming the minds of the passing generations of students and influencing the thinking and practice… More

Isaiah Berlin: A Life

- Ignatieff, Michael. Isaiah Berlin: A Life. London: Chatto and Windus; New York: Metropolitan, 1998.  
From the Publisher: “Isaiah Berlin was witness to a century. Born in Riga in the twilight of the Czarist empire, he lived long enough to see the Soviet state collapse. The son of a Jewish timber merchant, he became a presiding judge of Western… More

“Are there Limits to Liberalism? Review of John Gray, Isaiah Berlin”

- Walzer, Michael. “Are there Limits to Liberalism? Review of John Gray, Isaiah BerlinNew York Times Review of Books October 1995.    
Excerpt: “In his famous essay on Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Isaiah Berlin divides writers about human affairs—philosophers, historians, social theorists, novelists, and poets—into two categories that he names, engagingly, hedgehogs and foxes, making… More

Isaiah Berlin by John Gray

- Gray, John. Isaiah Berlin. London: HarperCollins; Princeton, 1996: Princeton University Press; retitled Berlin for the paperback edition, London, 1995: Fontana.
From the Publisher: “Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) was the greatest intellectual historian of the twentieth century. But his work also made an original and important contribution to moral and political philosophy and to liberal theory. In 1921, at the age… More

“The Singular and the Plural: On the Distinctive Liberalism of Isaiah Berlin”

- Lukes, Steven. “The Singular and the Plural: On the Distinctive Liberalism of Isaiah Berlin,” Social Research, 61: 687–718, 1994.  
Abstract: “Part of a special issue on the idea of liberalism and the liberal agenda. The writer analyzes the writings of Isaiah Berlin, who has written to great effect and purpose about the critics of liberalism’s Enlightenment project. The… More

Isaiah Berlin’s Liberalism

- Galipeau, Claude J. Isaiah Berlin's Liberalism. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994.
From the Publisher: “This is the first systematic study of Sir Isaiah Berlin’s political ideas to draw on all of his writings, including manuscripts, interviews, and correspondence. Claude Galipeau focuses on Berlin’s defense of political… More

Conversations with Isaiah Berlin

- Jahanbegloo, Ramin. Conversations with Isaiah Berlin. London: Peter Halban; New York 1992, Scribner’s, 1992.
From the Publisher: “The philosopher, intellectual historian, and proponent of liberal thinking recounts his life, interspersing personal reminiscences with a discussion of the great thinkers who influenced and intrigued him–from Machiavelli to… More

Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration

- Margalit, Edna and Avishai, (eds.). Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration. London: Hogarth Press; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. Biography, introduction
From the Publisher: “Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration gathers tributes, reflections, and commentaries on the great thinker and his philosophy, politics, and life-including contributions from Michael Ignatieff, Leon Wieseltier, Ronald Dworkin, Stephen… More

A Critical Appraisal of Sir Isaiah Berlin’s Political Philosophy

- Kocis, Robert. A Critical Appraisal of Sir Isaiah Berlin's Political Philosophy. Lewiston, NY, etc.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989.  
From the Publisher: “This critical appraisal of Isaiah Berlin’s thoughts on the nature of reality, of humanity, of values, and of politics and liberty describes his views as unwaveringly modern and empiricist.”

Review of Against the Current by Stanley Rosen

- Rosen, Stanley. “Review: Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas by Isaiah Berlin.” The Journal of Modern History, 53/2, June 1981.  
The late Stanley Rosen assesses Isaiah Berlin’s contribution as a Cold War liberal and as a thinker.

“Introduction to Berlin” from Personal Impressions

- Annan, Noel. “Introduction to Berlin” in, Isaiah Berlin. Personal Impressions. London: Hogarth Press, 1980.
From the Publisher: “In this collection of remarkable biographical portraits, the great essayist and intellectual historian Isaiah Berlin brings to life a wide range of prominent twentieth-century thinkers, politicians, and writers. These include… More

“Berlin on the Compatibility of Values, Ideals, and “Ends.’”

- MacCallum, Gerald C. “Berlin on the Compatibility of Values, Ideals, and “Ends.’” Ethics, 77: 139–45, 1967.  
Excerpt: “THE above passage in Berlin’s inaugural lecture launches an attack on what might be called the “compatibility conviction,” one version of which is provided in the last sentence quoted. Berlin has attacked this conviction or… More

“Relativism” by Leo Strauss

- Strauss, Leo. ‘Relativism’, in Relativism and the Study of Man. H. Schoeck and J. Wiggins (eds.). Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1961.