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Political Ideas in the Romantic Age:
Their Rise and Influence on Modern Thought
Updated Edition
Isaiah Berlin
Edited by Henry Hardy
With a new foreword by William A. Galston
and an introduction by Joshua L. Cherniss

Paperback | 2014 | $29.95 | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691158440
504 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400852819 |
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Isaiah Berlin's Web Page

This new edition features the previously unpublished delivery text of Berlin's inaugural lecture as a professor at Oxford, which derives from this volume and stands as the briefest and most pithy version of his famous essay "Two Concepts of Liberty.?

Political Ideas in the Romantic Age is the only book in which the great intellectual historian Isaiah Berlin lays out in one continuous account most of his key insights about the period he made his own. Written for a series of lectures at Bryn Mawr College in 1952, and heavily revised and expanded by Berlin afterward, the book argues that the political ideas of 1760-1830 are still largely ours, down to the language and metaphors they are expressed in. Berlin provides a vivid account of some of the era’s most influential thinkers, including Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Helvetius, Condorcet, Saint-Simon, and Schelling. Written in Berlin’s characteristically accessible style, this is his longest single text. Distilling his formative early work and containing much that is not to be found in his famous essays, the book is of great interest both for what it reveals about the continuing influence of Romantic political thinking and for what it shows about the development of Berlin’s own influential thought.

The book has been carefully prepared by Berlin's longtime editor Henry Hardy, and Joshua L. Cherniss provides an illuminating introduction that sets it in the context of Berlin's life and work.


"Indispensable for anyone interested in the history of ideas and the development of liberal thought, it contains most of the central themes of Berlin's work, together with some of its recurring ambiguities."--John Gray, New York Review of Books

"A fine introduction to Berlin's thought, and a major addition to the corpus of his work."--Anthony Grayling, Literary Review

"In this volume, we have one of the most central sources for much of Berlin's thought. What makes Berlin such a compelling historian, and one of the very few of whom it will always be said that he is a pleasure to read, was the way that he got under the skin of people whose opinions he found, after considered thought, abhorrent. His ideas are still worth debating today, and for the foreseeable future."--Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

"An event of major importance. . . . Hitherto, students of Berlin have been like explorers searching for the source of the Nile, but with only a network of streams to go by, not a single river; now they can stand on the shores of their very own Lake Victoria, gazing at the mighty reservoir itself."--Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph

"[Political Ideas in the Romantic Age] contains, in embryo, the main ideas that were to dominate [Berlin's] thought."--Raymond Carr, Spectator

"An absorbing and impressive new book . . . [that] says that we still live off the intellectual capital produced by the great thinkers of the romantic age, roughly 1760 to 1830. We think as they thought. We speak as they spoke."--Robert Fulford, National Post

"Berlin's text is substantially rich and essential for understanding the foundations of his early intellectual encounters with the minds of the Enlightenment and the Romantic age."--Choice

More reviews

Table of Contents:

Foreword by William A. Galston xi
Abbreviations and Conventions xxiii
Editor’s Preface xxv
Isaiah Berlin’s Political Ideas: From the Twentieth Century to the Romantic Age by Joshua L. Cherniss xliii
1 Prologue 1
1 Politics as a Descriptive Science 21
2 The Idea of Freedom 112
3 Two Concepts of Freedom: Romantic and Liberal 195
4 The March of History 261
Appendix: Subjective versus Objective Ethics 325
Summaries of the Flexner Lectures 333
Note from the Editor to the Author 349
Appendix to the Second Edition The Concise ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ 355
Index 389

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Henry Hardy:

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Isaiah Berlin:

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