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Political Ideas in the Romantic Age:
Their Rise and Influence on Modern Thought
Isaiah Berlin
Edited by Henry Hardy
With an introduction by Joshua L. Cherniss

Paperback | 2008 | $26.95 / £18.95 | ISBN: 9780691126951
352 pp. | 6 x 9 | Shopping Cart

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It is sometimes thought that the renowned essayist Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) was incapable of writing a big book. But in fact he developed some of his most important essays--including "Two Concepts of Liberty" and "Historical Inevitability"--from a book-length manuscript that he intended to publish but later set aside. Published here for the first time, Political Ideas in the Romantic Age is the only book in which Berlin lays out in one continuous account most of his key insights about the history of ideas in the period that he made his own--the Romantic age. Distilling his formative early work in the history of ideas, the book also contains much that is not found elsewhere in his writings. The last of Berlin's posthumous books, it is of great interest both for his treatment of the subject and for what it reveals about his intellectual development.

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 the Romantic age are still largely our own--down to the language and metaphors they are expressed in. Vividly expounding the central political ideas of leading European thinkers in the period 1760-1830, including Helvetius, Condorcet, Rousseau, Saint-Simon, Hegel, Schelling, and Fichte, the book is written in Berlin's characteristically accessible style.

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

"[This book] is worth a look for anyone interested in a kind of original formulation of Berlin's ideas, but it also provides a new path into a great mind for those who are not yet familiar with him."--Brandon Turner, Perspectives on Political Science

"[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

"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, The Guardian

More reviews

Table of Contents:

Abbreviations and Conventions viii
Editor's Preface ix
Isaiah Berlin's Political Ideas: From the Twentieth Century to the Romantic Age
Joshua L. Cherniss xxi
Political Ideas in the Romantic Age Prologue 1
Chapter 1: Politics as a Descriptive Science 17
Chapter 2: The Idea of Freedom 88
Chapter 3: Two Concepts of Freedom: Romantic and Liberal 155
Chapter 4: The March of History 208
Appendix: Subjective versus Objective Ethics 260
Summaries of the Flexner Lectures 266
Note from the Editor to the Author 279
Index 285

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Isaiah Berlin:

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Henry Hardy:

Subject Areas:

Hardcover: Not for sale in the Commonwealth (except Canada) and the European Union
Paperback: Not for sale in the Commonwealth (except Canada) and the European Union

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    Paperback: $26.95 ISBN: 9780691126951

    For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and India

    Paperback: £18.95 ISBN: 9780691126951

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    File created: 3/27/2014

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