Four Essays on Liberty by Isaiah Berlin

We live in troubled and quite alarming times. What a pleasure, and a reminder of how intellect can still guide us if we employ it well, are these essays.

The most famous on is Two Concepts of Liberty, where Berlin explores political liberty and the concepts of freedom to do something and freedom from something. The others are about the history of ideas about liberty.

He is a great writer and a wonderful  interpreter and organiser of ideas. His own position is liberal but accepting of the world’s imperfections and the fact that humanity is plural, with people pursuing ends that are not always compatible. Which leads him to be very suspicious of systems and doctrines that claim universal application, because the always imply some degree of coercion in relation to others.

Profound and humanistic – well worth a look, as the forces of unreason and prejudice run so strongly around the world.

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