The Crooked Timber of Humanity

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

4.06 (624 ratings by Goodreads)
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"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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 17.78mm | 340g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0691058385
  • 9780691058382
  • 1,494,315

Table of contents

Editor's Preface The Pursuit of the Ideal The Decline of Utopian Ideas in the West Giambattista Vico and Cultural History Alleged Relativism in Eighteenth-Century European Thought Joseph de Maistre and the Origins of Fascism European Unity and its Vicissitudes The Apotheosis of the Romantic Will: The Revolt against the Myth of an Ideal World The Bent Twig: On the Rise of Nationalism Index
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Review quote

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
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About Isaiah Berlin

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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Rating details

624 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 38% (239)
4 38% (235)
3 18% (111)
2 5% (32)
1 1% (7)
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