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Isaiah Berlin
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii Introduction to the New Edition 1 Introduction to the Original Edition 36 1. The Idea of Freedom 41 2. Pluralism 74 3. History 111 4. Nationalism 133 5. Romanticism and the Counter-Enlightenment 156 6. Agonistic Liberalism 175 Notes 203 Concise Bibliography of Berlin's Work 215 Index 223

About the Author

John Gray is the acclaimed, bestselling author of many books, including "Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals", "False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism", "Al Qaeda and What It Means To Be Modern", "Gray's Anatomy: Selected Writings", "The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death", and "The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths". He is professor emeritus of European thought at the London School of Economics and a regular contributor to the "Guardian", "New York Review of Books", "New Republic", and "New Statesman".

Reviews

"Gray's book is as much a reconstruction as a presentation of Berlin's thought... Gray's reconstruction is ... impressive and revealing. It points persuasively to both the overall coherence and the internal tensions of Berlin's thought... Gray has written an acute and illuminating exposition of Berlin's world view... He probably gets closer to Berlin than anyone else has done."--Michael Walzer, New York Review of Books "Gray is a forceful writer, an engaged political theorist with a serious interest in philosophical fundamentals."--Steven Lukes, Times Literary Supplement "A careful study...Gray astutely guides readers through the complex ideas of an important philosopher."--Publishers Weekly "Isaiah Berlin's commitment to liberalism for all its difficulties remains solid, and Mr. Gray's argument is that this 'agonistic' liberalism is our best bet... It is an argument not to be missed."--Colin Walters, Washington Times "A masterly study of Berlin's political thought... Gray brilliantly expounds in highly condensed prose Berlin's theory of pluralism, developing its direction and course, even where Berlin is silent, and explaining its political relevance."--Adam Wolfson, National Interest "An excellent exposition of Isaiah Berlin's ideas. [Gray] is particularly interesting in his account of Berlin's idea of negative freedom."--William Phillips, Partisan Review "A thought-provoking analysis?. Gray raises all of the right sort of questions about Berlin's position."--Choice "Succeed[s] in bringing the daring of [Berlin's] thinking so clearly into view... Berlin's commitment to liberalism for all its difficulties remains solid, and Mr. Gray's argument is that this 'agonistic' liberalism is our best bet... It is an argument not to be missed."--Colin Walters, Washington Times "Isaiah Berlin is without a doubt the greatest living authority on the history of ideas... He stands as one of the pre-eminent modern exemplars of political liberalism... It is the singular merit of John Gray to have distilled from Berlin's voluminous writings the philosophical essence of his liberalism within this slim volume... In his thoughtful study of Berlin's political philosophy, John Gray performs the admirable service of demonstrating how consummately civilized a man Isaiah Berlin is."--David Glasner, National Review "A clearly written and well-argued book that is essential reading for anyone concerned with contemporary moral and political thought."--Ethics "Like Berlin, Gray's historical sensibility, lack of parochialism, and courageous and imaginative contemplation of vistas outside the narrow confines of academic liberalism make him, as this book abundantly demonstrates, ideally situated to reflect deeply on the predicaments of the modern world."--Pratap Bhanu, American Political Science Review "Gray clearly identifies deeply with Berlin's system of thought, enters into it, and then worries persistently about its tensions and stresses and seeks a way out. This focus on a single theme, and the almost anguished perplexity are attractive features of Gray's book."--Ernest Gellner, Guardian "Gray's reconstruction is...impressive and revealing. It points to both the overall coherence and the internal tensions of Berlin's thought."--Michael Wlazer, New York Review of Books "Berlin's message is not comforting to conventional liberal establishment susceptibilities. As this book insists, it is deeply subversive. Gray finds in Berlin's 'value pluralism' the leitmotif of all his writings. Ultimate human values, Berlin insists, are conflictive; they cannot be reconciled by rational calculation since they are not measurable, least of all can they be reconciled by what Gray dismisses as 'the desiccated discourse of Anglo-American philosophy,' which Berlin abandoned as incapable of solving anything of importance to us as human beings, at worst a game of juggling with words, at best a species of mental arithmetic dispelling tragic confusions."--Raymond Carr, Spectator

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