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Isaiah Berlin:
An Interpretation of His Thought
John Gray
With a new introduction by the author

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"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


"Isaiah Berlin delighted in the world's variousness, and made a philosophy out of that delight. John Gray in this book presents to us a thinker who set himself squarely against all those, on the left or the right, who have hit upon a Big Idea that they believe will change the world and who try to coerce us into following them. Gray's book is now all the more timely."--John Banville

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File created: 4/24/2017

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