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Freedom and its Betrayal: Six Enemies of Human Liberty

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Isaiah Berlin's celebrated radio lectures on six formative anti-liberal thinkers were broadcast by the BBC in 1952. They are published here for the first time, fifty years later. They comprise one of Berlin's earliest and most convincing expositions of his views on human freedom and on the history of ideas--views that later found expression in such famous works as Two Conc Isaiah Berlin's celebrated radio lectures on six formative anti-liberal thinkers were broadcast by the BBC in 1952. They are published here for the first time, fifty years later. They comprise one of Berlin's earliest and most convincing expositions of his views on human freedom and on the history of ideas--views that later found expression in such famous works as Two Concepts of Liberty, and were at the heart of his lifelong work on the Enlightenment and its critics. Working with BBC transcripts and Berlin's annotated drafts, Henry Hardy has recreated these lectures, which consolidated the forty-three-year-old Berlin's growing reputation as a man who could speak about intellectual matters in an accessible and involving way. In his lucid examination of sometimes complex ideas, Berlin demonstrates that a balanced understanding and a resilient defense of human liberty depend on learning both from the errors of freedom's alleged defenders and from the dark insights of its avowed antagonists. This book throws light on the early development of Berlin's most influential ideas and supplements his already published writings with fuller treatments of Helv�tius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, and Saint-Simon, with the ultra-conservative Maistre bringing up the rear. These thinkers gave to freedom a new dimension of power--power that, Berlin argues, has historically brought about less, not more, individual liberty. These lectures show Berlin at his liveliest and most torrentially spontaneous, testifying to his talents as a teacher of rare brilliance and impact. Listeners tuned in expectantly each week to the hour-long broadcasts and found themselves mesmerized by Berlin's astonishingly fluent extempore style. One listener, a leading historian of ideas who was then a schoolboy, was to recount that the lectures excited me so much that I sat, for every talk, on the floor beside the wireless, taking notes. This excitement is at last recreated here for all to share.


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Isaiah Berlin's celebrated radio lectures on six formative anti-liberal thinkers were broadcast by the BBC in 1952. They are published here for the first time, fifty years later. They comprise one of Berlin's earliest and most convincing expositions of his views on human freedom and on the history of ideas--views that later found expression in such famous works as Two Conc Isaiah Berlin's celebrated radio lectures on six formative anti-liberal thinkers were broadcast by the BBC in 1952. They are published here for the first time, fifty years later. They comprise one of Berlin's earliest and most convincing expositions of his views on human freedom and on the history of ideas--views that later found expression in such famous works as Two Concepts of Liberty, and were at the heart of his lifelong work on the Enlightenment and its critics. Working with BBC transcripts and Berlin's annotated drafts, Henry Hardy has recreated these lectures, which consolidated the forty-three-year-old Berlin's growing reputation as a man who could speak about intellectual matters in an accessible and involving way. In his lucid examination of sometimes complex ideas, Berlin demonstrates that a balanced understanding and a resilient defense of human liberty depend on learning both from the errors of freedom's alleged defenders and from the dark insights of its avowed antagonists. This book throws light on the early development of Berlin's most influential ideas and supplements his already published writings with fuller treatments of Helv�tius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, and Saint-Simon, with the ultra-conservative Maistre bringing up the rear. These thinkers gave to freedom a new dimension of power--power that, Berlin argues, has historically brought about less, not more, individual liberty. These lectures show Berlin at his liveliest and most torrentially spontaneous, testifying to his talents as a teacher of rare brilliance and impact. Listeners tuned in expectantly each week to the hour-long broadcasts and found themselves mesmerized by Berlin's astonishingly fluent extempore style. One listener, a leading historian of ideas who was then a schoolboy, was to recount that the lectures excited me so much that I sat, for every talk, on the floor beside the wireless, taking notes. This excitement is at last recreated here for all to share.

30 review for Freedom and its Betrayal: Six Enemies of Human Liberty

  1. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Trump’s Religion Trumpism is a powerful popular movement. For many, including me, it is a mysterious thing. What holds together an alliance of evangelical Christians, farmers, resentful bourgeoisie, racist nationalists, anti-Intellectuals, and radical nihilists? Surely without a common political philosophy such an electorate must fragment as soon as real policies are formulated. And yet, if anything, Trump’s followers seem more aligned than they did three years ago. What is the real core of convi Trump’s Religion Trumpism is a powerful popular movement. For many, including me, it is a mysterious thing. What holds together an alliance of evangelical Christians, farmers, resentful bourgeoisie, racist nationalists, anti-Intellectuals, and radical nihilists? Surely without a common political philosophy such an electorate must fragment as soon as real policies are formulated. And yet, if anything, Trump’s followers seem more aligned than they did three years ago. What is the real core of conviction that holds these people together? Isaiah Berlin’s analysis of the historical intellectual roots of modern political society provides some enlightening suggestions. His study of the early 19th century philosopher and man of affairs, Joseph de Maistre, is particularly revealing of the current situation in the United States. Berlin’s acute insights, although written and recorded almost 70 years ago, provide for me a compelling rationale for Trumpism and its international variants. Maistre was an arch-reactionary. He, even more so than his rough contemporary Edmund Burke, was horrified by what he perceived as the liberal idea of personal freedom underlying the French Revolution and its murderous consequences. Most of his recorded thought involves constructing a rationale for the destruction of all rationality, particularly that of the French philosophes whose Reason had led to the destruction of reasonable society. For Berlin, Maistre’s philosophy has, just as that of the liberal philosophes, a mystical core: “This is a central doctrine in Maistre: that rationalist notions do not work. If you really want to know why people behave as they do, you must seek the answer in the realm of the irrational.” Immediately, it is clear from this observation why current-day Trumpists suspect not just science and its conclusions about things like climate change, but all experts from economists to political analysts. This attitude is not a consequence of ignorance which might be corrected by education; it is the conclusion of a rather sophisticated logical argument in the same vein as that of Maistre. This conclusion also conforms with the traditional religious mood in America, which is one of gnostic Calvinism. According to St. Augustine, the mind is an unreliable and fundamentally corrupt organ of all human beings. The mind is driven by desires which cloud its judgments and lead to self-destructive behaviour. It, therefore, must be thwarted as a matter of Christian principle: “Clarity, intelligibility must be put out of court, must be stopped, because it is they which create unrest, criticism, questioning.” Trump, of course, demonstrates this principle every time he opens his mouth. And it is perceived as such by his supporters. What counts, what holds society together, is one’s culture - those institutional norms and rules of behaviour which have been tried and tested. It is not simply that these are familiar and consequently more comfortable. They have been pragmatically proven to work by their persistence. Political conservatism therefore has a great affinity with religion as an institution that recognizes the value of ritual and liturgy, and the permanence of social institutions themselves. Antiquity is good simply because it is old. “The enemy, as we have seen, is ‘la secte’, the disturbers, the subverters, the secular reformers, the intellectuals, the idealists, the lawyers, the perfectibilians, the people who believe in conscience, or equality, or the rational organisation of society, the liberators, the revolutionaries – these are the people who must be rooted out.” This social conservatism is accompanied by justified suspicion of those who may not be part of ‘us’ because of race or national background. “Prejudice is simply the skin which humanity has acquired in the course of centuries.” Prejudice, therefore, is not some arbitrary judgment; it too is a pragmatic historical principle which can be abandoned only with extreme social peril. Prejudice, and Maistre refers particularly to immigrants, is not a personal defect but a responsibility for all citizens. It is the first line of defense for civilization. “Maistre’s belief [is] that government is impossible without repression of the weak majority by a minority of dedicated rulers, hardened against all temptation to indulge in any kind of humanitarianism.” Repression of the weak, both domestically and internationally, demands power, and power of a particular sort: “all greatness, all power, all social order depends upon the executioner; he is the terror of human society and the tie that holds it together.” For Maistre, “Power is divine. It is the source of all life, of all action.” And whoever holds power - whether the upstart Napoleon Bonaparte or the mendacious Donald Trump - has been manifestly designated by God to impose appropriate order on society. Ultimately this is the power to kill, either one’s own or others as necessary. Hence the religious justification for increased defense and police budgets and for seemingly reckless international confrontation. “Let us look at what is going on round us, Maistre says, let us not look at books, let us look at nature, at ourselves.” Theory, strategy, even language, is inherently bad. With some dumbing down of the vocabulary, Berlin’s summary of Maistre’s national self-reflection captures a coherent political philosophy and could easily form the centerpiece for a Trump rally: “At the end of positivist, optimistic periods of human construction, in which men rise up and say they are about to cure all the world’s ills by some economic or social solution, which then does not work, there is always a penchant for reaction on the part of ordinary people, satiated by so much false optimism, so much pragmatism, so much positive idealism, which become discredited by the sheer pricking of the bubble, by the fact that all the slogans turn out to be meaningless and weak when the wolf really comes to the door. Always, after this, people want to look at the seamy side of things, and in our day the more terrifying sides of psychoanalysis, the more brutal and violent aspects of Marxism, are due to this human craving for the seamy side – something more astringent, more real, more genuine, meeting people’s needs in some more effective fashion than the rosy, over-mechanical, over-schematised faiths of the past.” Postscript: For more on Maistre’s influence on political philosophy and law, see: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mahtab

    از متن کتاب: انسان می کشد تا بخورد، میکشد تا بپوشد، می کشد تا خود را بیاراید، می کشد تا بتازد، می کشد تا از خود دفاع کند، می کشد تا بیاموزد، می کشد تا تفریح کند، می کشد تا بکشد: او شاهی است مغرور و سهمگین که به همه چیز نیاز دارد و هیچ چیز را یارای ایستادگی در برابر او نیست... از بره روده هایش را می خواهد تا نوای چنگ خود را طنین افکن سازد... از گرگ کشنده ترین دندانش را تا کارهای هنری ناچیز خویش را صیقل دهد، از فیل عاجش را تا برای کودکش بازیچه بسازد. سفره اش پوشیده از اجساد است... اما کدام موجود در از متن کتاب: انسان می کشد تا بخورد، میکشد تا بپوشد، می کشد تا خود را بیاراید، می کشد تا بتازد، می کشد تا از خود دفاع کند، می کشد تا بیاموزد، می کشد تا تفریح کند، می کشد تا بکشد: او شاهی است مغرور و سهمگین که به همه چیز نیاز دارد و هیچ چیز را یارای ایستادگی در برابر او نیست... از بره روده هایش را می خواهد تا نوای چنگ خود را طنین افکن سازد... از گرگ کشنده ترین دندانش را تا کارهای هنری ناچیز خویش را صیقل دهد، از فیل عاجش را تا برای کودکش بازیچه بسازد. سفره اش پوشیده از اجساد است... اما کدام موجود در این کشت و کشتارآن را که همه را نابود می کند نابود خواهد کرد؟خود او. وظیفه سلاخی آدمیان بر عهده خود آدمی است... قانون بزرگ نابودی وحشیانه موجودات زنده بدین سان به انجام می رسد. سراسر زمین پیوسته غرق در خون است و چیزی به جز قربانگاهی پهناور نیست که هر ذی حیاتی باید بی آنکه نهایت و حد و وقفه ای در کار باشد تا انجام امور، تا برافتادن شر و بدی، تا مرگ مرگ، در آن قربانی شود.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Greg Brozeit

    The idea that hundreds of thousands would tune in to listen Isaiah Berlin on BBC radio in the early 1950s to discuss six political thinkers’ ideas about freedom seems unfathomable today. Henry Hardy reconstructed the lectures into these succinct essays that are largely devoid of Berlin’s majestic, cartographic sentences to create what is arguably the most accessible of the collections available. As he makes clear in each essay, their ideas of freedom actually buttressed the principles of authori The idea that hundreds of thousands would tune in to listen Isaiah Berlin on BBC radio in the early 1950s to discuss six political thinkers’ ideas about freedom seems unfathomable today. Henry Hardy reconstructed the lectures into these succinct essays that are largely devoid of Berlin’s majestic, cartographic sentences to create what is arguably the most accessible of the collections available. As he makes clear in each essay, their ideas of freedom actually buttressed the principles of authoritarian, totalitarian systems. Given the tenor of our times and my occasional reading list to help me better understand the large portion of U.S. that craves simplistic right-wing leadership, I’ll focus on the last subject, Joseph de Maistre. Maistre was the intellectual father on modern fascism. I doubt that 20th and 21st century fascist leaders and politicians—even the current American incarnation—ever heard of him, but his ideas form the core of modern day reactionary political systems. Born in the Savoy kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1753, his views were strongly influenced by the experiences of the French Revolution. He served the king of Sardinia, first gaining prominence as a pamphleteer and later as envoy to Russia—the king wanted both to control and keep him as far away as possible—where he lived from 1803 to 1817 before being summoned home until his death in 1821. Maistre strongly opposed the liberal thinkers of the 18th century with a counter-intuitive empiricism. “In place of the ideals of progress, liberty, perfectibility he preached the sacredness of the past, the virtue, and the necessity, indeed, of complete subjection, because of the incurably bad and corrupt nature of man. In place of science, he preached the primacy of instinct, superstition, prejudice. In place of optimism, pessimism. In place of eternal harmony and eternal peace, the necessity—for him the divine necessity—of conflict, of suffering, of bloodshed, of war.” He saw killing as a virtue, extrapolating the killing of animals for man’s benefits (from food to clothing to luxury) to the primal need for society to live in fear of the “hangman,” which, intellectually, is not far removed from contemporary rhetoric about “law and order.” Moreover, war is a good for society because it acts as an organizing force. The Church, Catholic in his case, does the same. Since, as Berlin articulates Maistre, “Man is by nature vicious, wicked, cowardly and bad…unless clamped with iron rings and held down by means of the most rigid discipline” he “need[s] to be curbed and controlled.” Moreover, Maistre believed that irrationality—“the only things which last”—not rationality, explained how society behaved. “For example, he says, take the institution of hereditary monarchy: What could be more irrational?...Here is an institution of patently idiotic nature, for which no good reason can be given, yet it lasts…But far more rational, far more logical and reasonable, would be to abolish such a monarchy and see what happens.” Maistre felt the same about marriage, reasoning the irrationality of a couple falling in love and then staying together because of historical tradition. “So he goes on, from institution to institution, paradoxically asserting that whatever is irrational lasts, and that whatever is rational collapses; it collapses because anything which is constructed by reason can be pulverised by reason…The only thing which can ever dominate man is impenetrable mystery.” Prejudice is, according Maistre, a virtue because it is “merely the beliefs of the centuries, tested by experience." Scientists “are the people who have the least capacity for understanding life, and for government…[because] science [has a] dry, abstract, unconcrete nature, something about the fact that it is divorced from the crooked, chaotic, the irrational texture of life with all its darkness, which makes scientists incapable of adapting themselves to actual facts, and anyone listening to them is automatically doomed.” He advised the Russian czar to ban German Lutherans from entering his country because “Good men—family men, men who have traditions, faith, religion, respectable morals—do not leave their countries. Only the feckless and the restless and the critical do so. This is,” as Berlin makes clear, “the first real sermon against refugees, against freedom of spirit, against the circulation of humanity…” Maistre was, unsurprisingly, a great admirer of Napoleon. The King of Sardinia explicitly prohibited Maistre from meeting with Napoleon because he feared the consequences of what might come out of such an encounter. And although Maistre’s views were largely confined to elites and he was much forgotten after his death, his ideas predicted the worst of the 20th century and still informs how we should view demagogues and their followers today. According to Berlin, “Maistre earns our gratitude as a prophet of the most violent, the most destructive forces which have threatened and still threaten the liberty and ideals of normal human beings.” For those who question how Putinism, Trumpism, fundamentalist religion, and extreme terrorism can flourish today, it might be worth learning more about Maistre. They probably won’t like what they see and read, but they’ll be better able to understand why these movements exist and why the defenders of liberal democracy (writ small) must never become complacent.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Domenico Fina

    Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) pensatore, storico delle idee russo, ebreo, vissuto prevalentemente in Inghilterra, era una specie di Montaigne approdato all'Università di Oxford. Leggete, se vi va, tutto di lui, da "Il riccio e la volpe", a "Il legno storto dell'umanità", "Controcorrente", "Le radici del romanticismo". Aveva la capacità di dire le cose con l'indole di chi sembra sapere tutto con naturalezza, senza sforzo. Quando morì, in Inghilterra scrissero che era morto l'uomo più intelligente del Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) pensatore, storico delle idee russo, ebreo, vissuto prevalentemente in Inghilterra, era una specie di Montaigne approdato all'Università di Oxford. Leggete, se vi va, tutto di lui, da "Il riccio e la volpe", a "Il legno storto dell'umanità", "Controcorrente", "Le radici del romanticismo". Aveva la capacità di dire le cose con l'indole di chi sembra sapere tutto con naturalezza, senza sforzo. Quando morì, in Inghilterra scrissero che era morto l'uomo più intelligente del mondo, e per quello che vale il mio parere, sono d'accordo. Intelligenza nel senso di capacità di stabilire nessi, relazioni, mettersi nei panni di, immaginare, ragionare, cercare un possibile ordine stando sempre all'erta, senza portare le idee al punto in cui si trasformano in pericolose teologie personali. Nel 1952 alla BBC Berlin parlò di sei filosofi che hanno condotto il loro pensiero in ambiti tali da suscitare in chi venne dopo di loro una sorta di attrazione fatale. Questo volume prezioso, edito postumo nel 2002, raccoglie sei conferenze radiofoniche su Helvètius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Simon, De Maistre. Leggere Berlin è la cosa più vicina a ciò che si intende per cultura, parlando di filosofia parla di vita, di musica, di letteratura, di come muoversi tra le idee e i sentimenti. Nel capitolo dedicato a Fichte, in poche pagine centrali si intuisce la nascita del nazionalismo moderno. Fichte era un continuatore di Kant, un filosofo lucido, per il quale la libertà più pura era quella interiore, in cui l'io era simile a ciò che accomuna le espressioni artistiche, un io che vivifica l'individuo, e in alcune circostanze lo protegge in una sorta di quietismo di derivazione kantiana. Da questo assunto innocente Fichte spinge il suo ragionamento fino a identificare l'io con un io comune, un io mistico che affratella gli individui, un io natura, un io Dio, un io nazione. Il filosofo che aveva predicato il massimo della introspezione si convince che questa introspezione portata al sublime deve coincidere con lo spirito del nazione, con il cammino morale della storia. Berlin scrive: "Si tratta di una dottrina teologica, ed è chiaro che per quest'aspetto Fichte era un teologo, e tale era anche Hegel; e supporre che siano pensatori secolari non può portare a nulla di buono." Il capitolo dedicato a Rousseau è particolarmente significativo, quantomai oggigiorno... Per dire: se una piattaforma si chiama Rousseau e non Montaigne e i suoi adepti talvolta sembrano invasati nell'atto libidinoso di chi ha appena abolito la povertà, quantomeno bisogna vigilare, vigilarli, vigilararsi.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Aban

    A book with a title that may conjures up the image of these philosophers as completely wrong, but in fact these six enemies, whose ideas have been clearly explained, without that sophistry particular to philosophical books, are as much as fair in many things that they are dogmatic and unfair to the notion of liberty. It seems that the idea common to them all is the notion of progress, and by progress they mean the maximum of happiness for the greatest number of peoples. Compared to other five phi A book with a title that may conjures up the image of these philosophers as completely wrong, but in fact these six enemies, whose ideas have been clearly explained, without that sophistry particular to philosophical books, are as much as fair in many things that they are dogmatic and unfair to the notion of liberty. It seems that the idea common to them all is the notion of progress, and by progress they mean the maximum of happiness for the greatest number of peoples. Compared to other five philosophers, including Helvetius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel and Maistre, Saint-Simon has addressed it more clearly and more directly. Although their philosophical ideas sometimes are so different of each other that in some cases they could be imagined in a debate battlefield, but speaking of history, right, government, and God, they all unanimously sacrifice the individual liberty to the maximum union and harmony of the greatest number of peoples that in the most cases ends in nationalism, and this is the very point that obsessed me with this bitter truth that the mankind always is limit in choosing between alternatives and in most times the condition obliges him/her to lose something in order to get something else, so if we consider the context in which these philosophers have breathed in its air, they all have attempted on building a philosophical system that they assumed it is the most correspondent of systems to their society needs, for example to the need of national union at the time of other foreign countries invasion. So when they speak of the value of things, their special yardstick for evaluating them is the UTILITY of these things and the extent to which these things can be useful for attaining their goals. A liberal person surely can’t stand this viewpoint but it is more logical this person do honor the liberty which he/she believes in and ask this question that what kind of system could present us with a utopia in which individual liberty and the greatest number of peoples with maximum happiness live side by side? This is the same question that every philosopher’s mind has been obsessed with ever since. The main goal of these thinkers is progress and for reaching to that, they are not so optimist on the ordinary peoples’ side. They put the authority of determination the most suitable goals on the hands of elites like scientists, thinkers, writers, painters and anyone who can create a new useful thing to attain this goal, so such works that lack a useful idea, let’s say the works which belong to the Art for Art’s Sake Movement, worth nothing for these philosophers. I disagree with them firstly not because they demand a useful thing, say, a particular new thing from works of literature, but because they just accept those things which politically are useful for the state, and even other useful things (apart from other truthful ideas which can stimulate public opinions) without political purposes tuned with theirs are condemned to censorship. Secondly, I think behind everything there is a purpose that if it is not useful in itself, it at least could drive other works whose ideas can be the preliminary steps for forming other fruitful discourses. I think the most tragic error of these thinkers is that for them political and practical utility were synonym with rationality and truth.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maughn Gregory

    Berlin is one of my favorite writers and his defense of rights-based liberalism is one of my favorite themes. These essays were originally radio talks he gave in the 50s and even though that means the writing isn't as dense as in his academic works, I can hardly imagine essays in political philosophy this complex finding air time today. Taken together, these essays provide a comprehensive pathology of the different ways that rightist and leftist political ideas and agendas can end up hampering th Berlin is one of my favorite writers and his defense of rights-based liberalism is one of my favorite themes. These essays were originally radio talks he gave in the 50s and even though that means the writing isn't as dense as in his academic works, I can hardly imagine essays in political philosophy this complex finding air time today. Taken together, these essays provide a comprehensive pathology of the different ways that rightist and leftist political ideas and agendas can end up hampering the bottom-line liberal maxim: that there ought to be a sphere of personal liberty (choice) that is off-limits to social coercion, irrespective of any kind of personal or collective good or evil that may result from it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alireza Sahafzadeh

    شش متفکر در این کتاب بررسی شدند و درباره ی آرای ایشان درباب آزادی بحث میشود و به زبانی ساده و رسا خیانت ایشان به مفهوم آزادی را بیان میکند در مجموع بسیار خواندنی بود

  8. 4 out of 5

    مژگان قاسمی

    بررسی نظریه ۶ فیلسوف درباره آزادی بعضی از این فیلسوفها آزادی رو ارج مینهن ولی در اعمال و افکارشون مخالف آزادی هستن ولی دومستر مخالف آزادی است. در کل کتاب خوبی بود قوانین فعلی ای که در کشورهای دیگه جاری هست نتیجه تفکرات این فیلسوفها هست دومستر میگه طبقه ضعیف جامعه آزادی نیاز نداره بلکه او نیاز به نان و کفش دارد بعضی از این فیلسوفها معتقد بودن خواص و دانشمندان باید بر عوام سلطه داشته باشن به نظر من، هر دوره نیاز هست که قوانین تجدید نظر بشه. این کتاب دید آدمو باز میکنه

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tam Nguyen

    Guess what? Hegel, Fichte, and Rosseau are three thinkers that Berlin condemns as enemies of freedom. His argument is very convincing. There will be serious consequences when we celebrate positive freedom above everything else.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amin Riahi

    نام کتاب یادآور جامعه باز و دشمنان آن است اما سطح کتاب اصلا قابل مقایسه با آن اثر عظیم نیست. تنها بخشی که در ذهن من مانده و هنوز هم مرا متحیر می‌کند مباحث مربوط به روسو است. به دلیل وجود همان فصل هم به کتاب نمره ۳ می‌دهم. کتاب را به زودی دوباره خواهم خواهند.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alejo López Ortiz

    "Tú puedes creer que eres libre, tú puedes creer que eres feliz, tú puedes creer que deseas esto o aquello, pero yo se mejor lo que eres, lo que deseas, lo que te libera". El autor toma 6 filósofos: Helvétius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Simón y Maistre para dar todo un viaje sobre el estado, la sociedad, el individuo y la legislación. Todo ello con el fin de responder una pregunta que es la columna vertebral de las 6 disertaciones: ¿Por qué debe alguien obedecer a alguien más? Pero los pen "Tú puedes creer que eres libre, tú puedes creer que eres feliz, tú puedes creer que deseas esto o aquello, pero yo se mejor lo que eres, lo que deseas, lo que te libera". El autor toma 6 filósofos: Helvétius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Simón y Maistre para dar todo un viaje sobre el estado, la sociedad, el individuo y la legislación. Todo ello con el fin de responder una pregunta que es la columna vertebral de las 6 disertaciones: ¿Por qué debe alguien obedecer a alguien más? Pero los pensadores que toma Berlín no son autores cualesquiera. Estos 6 hombres son grandes, en materia de la libertad humana por alterar la naturaleza de la pregunta ortodoxa sobre la libertad. Ellos transformaron el ángulo de la libertad en sus obras, alteraron las categorías y el mismo Berlín los deja entrever como seres peligrosos y que pueden arrojar sobra sobre la humanidad. Sin lugar a duda, Berlín analiza estos 6 personajes con el fin de arrojar sobre ellos la duda e instigar una estigmatización sobre su pensamiento. En varios casos el autor asume una postura de admiración, pero casi siempre se muestra como un adalid de nuestra tradicional imagen de la libertad y sobre ella deja descender la sentencia de que los 6 son enemigos de la libertad humana. Es una buena obra para entender algunos puntos de vista de los filósofos en mención, para leer las ideas de un gran filósofo político como Berlín y personalmente, para reflexionar sobre la libertad. No cabe duda de que estamos en momentos de cambio, y tal vez la ortodoxia no es la respuesta a estos tiempos aciagos. Nos vendieron una libertad falsa, la libertad de poder hacer mucho dentro de un margen demasiado pequeño. Tal vez sea el instante de profundizar más sobre la libertad, y de recurrir a nuevos pensamientos sobre este bien que el liberalismo nos ha querido vender como el principal activo de su doctrina política.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amir

    برگشتم دیدم زمانی که خوندم بهش چهار ستاره دادم. امروز دو ستاره بیشتر نمیدم. فصل‌های کانت و هگلش خیلی بدن. کلاً هرچی میگذره اعتبار این دست گفتارهای برلین برام کمتر میشه.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sergio

    Interesting and valuable - can be read in parallel with other works of the same author. The hedgehog knows one big thing, but Isaiah Berlin knows many things.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Yacoob

    obzvláště kapitoly a Rousseauovi a Maistrem jsou pozoruhodné

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad Mirzaali

    با خواندن هر نوشته‌ای از آیزایا برلین کلاه از سر بر می‌دارم و خودم را در حال تحسین این حد از دانش، روشن‌بینی و تسلط بر تاریخ اندیشه‌ها می‌یابم برلین به تحلیل آرای شش متفکر می‌پردازد که جز یکی –ژوزف دومستر که اساسا با عقل و آزادی انسان در ستیز است– همگی به نام آزادی، ولی نهایتا و عملا علیه آن اندیشیده‌اند. این پنج متفکر باقی‌مانده عبارت‌اند از: هلوتیوس، روسو، فیشته، هگل و سن‌سیمون برلین طرفدار قرائت لیبرالی از آزادی است: نبود مانعی بر سر تحقق هرآن‌چه می‌خواهم بدان معتقد باشم و هرآن‌چه می‌خوام انجا با خواندن هر نوشته‌ای از آیزایا برلین کلاه از سر بر می‌دارم و خودم را در حال تحسین این حد از دانش، روشن‌بینی و تسلط بر تاریخ اندیشه‌ها می‌یابم برلین به تحلیل آرای شش متفکر می‌پردازد که جز یکی –ژوزف دومستر که اساسا با عقل و آزادی انسان در ستیز است– همگی به نام آزادی، ولی نهایتا و عملا علیه آن اندیشیده‌اند. این پنج متفکر باقی‌مانده عبارت‌اند از: هلوتیوس، روسو، فیشته، هگل و سن‌سیمون برلین طرفدار قرائت لیبرالی از آزادی است: نبود مانعی بر سر تحقق هرآن‌چه می‌خواهم بدان معتقد باشم و هرآن‌چه می‌خوام انجام دهم. نقد برلین به یکایک شش اندیشمند مورد بحثش این است که آن‌ها اگر چه اغلب از تجلیل آزادی انسان آغاز کرده‌اند، اما آن را در نهایت قربانی لذت و فایده (هلوتیوس)، یا تبعیت از نوعی اراده‌ی کلی و قاعده‌ی اخلاقی عمومی (روسو)، یا نوعی به ظهور رساندن و تحمیل خود بر طبیعت (فیشته) یا تبعیت از روحی فراگیر و منطق عقلی کلی و خلل‌ناپذیر (هگل) و یا فن‌سالاری و اعتقاد به سروری دانشمندان و مدیران صنعتی و بانک‌داران (سن‌سیمون) کرده‌اند

  16. 4 out of 5

    Fraser Kinnear

    Berlin starts with the fundamental question of political philosophy “why should one person obey other people at the cost to their own independence?”, and studies the answers of six post-enlightenment philosophers: Helvétius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Simon, and Maistre. All of these men disagreed fundamentally with the liberalism of, say, John Stuart Mill, and Berlin himself, which is why Berlin subtitled this book as the “six enemies of human liberty”. My priors entering into this book ere: Berlin starts with the fundamental question of political philosophy “why should one person obey other people at the cost to their own independence?”, and studies the answers of six post-enlightenment philosophers: Helvétius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Simon, and Maistre. All of these men disagreed fundamentally with the liberalism of, say, John Stuart Mill, and Berlin himself, which is why Berlin subtitled this book as the “six enemies of human liberty”. My priors entering into this book ere: Unlike his intellectual biography of Karl Marx (which I found after that much preferred), the thinkers in this work don’t appear to have the same influence today, which leads me to wonder why the BBC commissioned him to write the on-radio speeches that became this book. What Berlin quickly communicates is that many of the sentiments we hold today were reflected in the ideas of these thinkers, even if we don’t realize it. Here are my rough summaries: Helvétius: Don’t worry about individual liberty. Enlightened rulers should just focus on maximizing utility because their subjects are dumb and prejudiced. Rousseau: Individual freedom and good rules actually are in agreement when people love the rules. Therefore, we should all just sign a social contract to give ourselves to the group, and learn to be happy with this decision Kant (who was actually buried in the Fichte chapter): Individual happiness is a bad goal, because it’s too contingent on circumstances. Instead, we should focus on attaining moral goals. This exercise to control one’s desires is the ultimate freedom Fichte: the individual self doesn’t really exist or matter, so their personal freedom doesn’t either. All that matters is the group Hegel: We’re all subject to a “world spirit”, which is the only truly free and important thing in existence. The clash of thesis and antithesis (e.g. political ideas) drive the world spirit forward, and whatever is the prevailing thesis at the time is the “correct” moral one. People who aren’t smart or fortunate enough to exploit the circumstances of the current prevailing thesis don’t deserve any sympathy. Saint-Simeon: History has been bad to people as technological advance has created segregation from consolidating wealth and power. However, we are progressing toward utopia through industrialization, and everyone should row together to get there. Individual liberty - framed as “rights” - is a zero-sum squabble and diversion from what people should instead focus on, which is the kind of economic growth that improves measurable standards of living. (This chapter was a welcome expansion to the Saint-S. <> Marx connections that I read about in Berlins other book). Maistre: Governance by reason is ineffective, in part because our nature is self-annihilating. There are no universal ideals - our cultures dominate and we’re best left segregated into cohesive groups that all agree anyway, because that is most stable. Irrational ideas like the Christian Church are helpful here because they anchor that stability and appeal to our baser instincts. Also useful is the terror of authority.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Libyrinths

    This book is a compilation of the transcripts of a series of six lectures given by the late history of ideas maven, Isaiah Berlin, and nicely edited by Henry Hardy. Berlin looks at six different thinkers/philosophers -- Helvetius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Simon and Maistre -- and shows where even if they professed to want human liberty, their ideas ultimately mitigated against it. Some of these did not value liberty at all. These six were prominent just before and after the French Revoluti This book is a compilation of the transcripts of a series of six lectures given by the late history of ideas maven, Isaiah Berlin, and nicely edited by Henry Hardy. Berlin looks at six different thinkers/philosophers -- Helvetius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Simon and Maistre -- and shows where even if they professed to want human liberty, their ideas ultimately mitigated against it. Some of these did not value liberty at all. These six were prominent just before and after the French Revolution. Berlin looks at each one, and shows how certain of their writings or beliefs were either antithetical to what they said they wanted -- liberty, or were in consonance with what they wanted -- no liberty at all. Not only that, but Berlin shows how various of these thinkers influenced other thinkers, or how later thinkers had similar ideas -- all eventually leading to the advocacy or reality of lack of liberty, even totalitarianism. Berlin's analyses and explanations are clear, and insightful.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jorg

    A wonderful review in lecture form of six thinkers of the Romantic era, all of whom conceived of liberty in, erm, heterodox terms, and all of whom have influenced our society in many ways, mostly (but not all!) detrimental. Berlin talks about Helvetius and his utilitarian tyranny of happiness; Rousseau, who managed to derive an equivalence between absolute liberty and absolute despotism; Fichte and the conversion of individual liberty into acts of national will; Hegel and his abandonment of free A wonderful review in lecture form of six thinkers of the Romantic era, all of whom conceived of liberty in, erm, heterodox terms, and all of whom have influenced our society in many ways, mostly (but not all!) detrimental. Berlin talks about Helvetius and his utilitarian tyranny of happiness; Rousseau, who managed to derive an equivalence between absolute liberty and absolute despotism; Fichte and the conversion of individual liberty into acts of national will; Hegel and his abandonment of freedom for tyranny of necessity; Saint-Simon and historicism; and finally, Maistre and his complete rejection of all enlightenment values. Several of these thinkers were logical precursors to fascism; several, to Stalinism and Maoism; all were responsible for legitimizing authoritarian tendencies. Berlin clearly describes the major tenets of their thought, the logical errors that they committed, and whatever use we may still derive from their efforts.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dorian Neerdael

    Dans ce long entretien à la radio, retranscrit sur papier, Isaiah Berlin analyse la pensée de six grands philosophes, à l'époque du "contrat social" et de la révolution française. Il passe en revue la conception de la liberté d'Helvétius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Simon et Maistre. Il montre, dans un langage clair et facilement abordable, ce que chacun de ces penseurs a de condamnable. Il veut mettre en avant la difficulté de leur pensée, qui ne peut mener qu'à un état totalitaire. Enfin, s' Dans ce long entretien à la radio, retranscrit sur papier, Isaiah Berlin analyse la pensée de six grands philosophes, à l'époque du "contrat social" et de la révolution française. Il passe en revue la conception de la liberté d'Helvétius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Simon et Maistre. Il montre, dans un langage clair et facilement abordable, ce que chacun de ces penseurs a de condamnable. Il veut mettre en avant la difficulté de leur pensée, qui ne peut mener qu'à un état totalitaire. Enfin, s'il critique l'usage qui est fait de la liberté par ces penseurs, il ne l'abandonne pas pour autant. Au contraire, il défend sa propre conception, pour contrer le totalitarisme et permettre un vrai libéralisme.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sam Eccleston

    A brilliant and insightful overview of the thinkers covered; at once revealing the ideological commitments of its author while at the same time retaining an air of fairness. What is so compelling about this book is how it manages to trace, and give vivid depictions of, the world-view of the authors it covers, rather than just outlining a few of their arguments. Berlin's masterful grasp of both the philosophy and the relevant historical and biographical details makes this possible. A brilliant and insightful overview of the thinkers covered; at once revealing the ideological commitments of its author while at the same time retaining an air of fairness. What is so compelling about this book is how it manages to trace, and give vivid depictions of, the world-view of the authors it covers, rather than just outlining a few of their arguments. Berlin's masterful grasp of both the philosophy and the relevant historical and biographical details makes this possible.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Michailidis

    My favourite book from Berlin and a great introduction for anyone. Rather than following the labyrinthine pathways of human though, Berlin focuses on a single topic, that of Liberty as seen from the "counter-enlightenment", a term he coined to describe large parts of the Romantic movement in Germany as well as French Enlightenment thinkers like t Jean-Jacques Rousseau. My favourite book from Berlin and a great introduction for anyone. Rather than following the labyrinthine pathways of human though, Berlin focuses on a single topic, that of Liberty as seen from the "counter-enlightenment", a term he coined to describe large parts of the Romantic movement in Germany as well as French Enlightenment thinkers like t Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Roger Carter

    In the tradition of his other writings, these six essays, which started as BBC radio talks, give a well balanced, but forensic assessment of six more (Rousseau or Hegel) or lesser known (Helvetius or Fichte) thinkers who have had a disproportionate (generally negative!) effect on our history. Berlin never disappoints!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Prooost Davis

    Not all 18th Century thinkers were happy with the rise of science and challenge to traditional authority. Berlin profiles six men whose ideas, while not prevailing in their own century, he believes led to the totalitarian governments of the 20th.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ebrahim Ayat

    I think the most important opponent of liberty was Maistre.his opinions on human and nature was intersting.And remembered me, lars von trier's movies!!! I think the most important opponent of liberty was Maistre.his opinions on human and nature was intersting.And remembered me, lars von trier's movies!!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Helveticus (Schweitzer) Rousseau Fichte Hegel Saint-Simon Maistre

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alex Bloom

    Classic Berlin. It's the same lecture on six different thinkers. But it's a great lecture. Classic Berlin. It's the same lecture on six different thinkers. But it's a great lecture.

  27. 5 out of 5

    David

    Interesting to see what people were listening to on BBC radio in 1951. Now way it would sell today. Way too serious.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    ' a block universe ' is mention on pg. 80 in the Hegel chapter. ( Interesting ) Berlin on Liberty pg. 103 is amazing ' a block universe ' is mention on pg. 80 in the Hegel chapter. ( Interesting ) Berlin on Liberty pg. 103 is amazing

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    This is a posthumous book, published in 2002 five years after Berlin's death, and represents the recovery of six BBC lectures, given on radio in 1952, from incomplete transcripts and notes. The lectures were an attempt to convey to the educated lay public how a set of highly capable and influential philosophers had laid the ground work for a critique of freedom that would come to play a major role in development of the then-recent fascist and then-current communist experiments. Although the book This is a posthumous book, published in 2002 five years after Berlin's death, and represents the recovery of six BBC lectures, given on radio in 1952, from incomplete transcripts and notes. The lectures were an attempt to convey to the educated lay public how a set of highly capable and influential philosophers had laid the ground work for a critique of freedom that would come to play a major role in development of the then-recent fascist and then-current communist experiments. Although the book oozes with Berlin's own indoubted intellectual integrity, it has to be seen within this wider context of an urgent contemporary defence of liberalism against any possible revival of one ideological enemy and the possible future hegemony of another. This is not the only work by any means in which he explored these themes - indeed the elucidation and defence of liberalism was his life's mission - but these lectures give us a sense of his ability to communicate difficult ideas to non-specialists. He covers Helvetius, Rousseau, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Simon and Maistre (writing roughly from the 1730s to 1820s) and he never falls into the trap of propagandising against these thinkers, treating them generously (notably the last two) and on their own terms. The Hegel lecture where perhaps he is least sympathetic (although he contests the ideas of all of them) is nevertheless probably the best short exposition of that difficult thinker's ideas that I have yet come across. Fichte too is handled superbly well. Saint-Simon is dealt with in almost fond terms as a good man whose ideas would prove dangerous but it is De Maistre in particular who Berlin sees as perhaps the most challenging to the liberal world view because he is so intelligently uncompromising in his studied obscurantism. De Maistre, who was to influence French fascism in the first instance and all forms of dynasticism that were prepared to rule by the knout, nevertheless is possibly the only serious political thinker to have faced head-on the 'problem of the sociopath'. The existence of the sociopath undermines a great deal of political theory based on contract and can draw the practical implementation of the enlightened thinker's projects towards an uncomfortable and tyrannous intrusion into private life. Hobbes wrote of a society that might be ordered or not ordered, either held together by authority or prey to brutishness, but it is De Maistre who goes deeper into why an obscurantist feudal order may be preferable to the fantasies of the Enlightenment. Given his pessimistic view of human nature (which was often perfectly appropriate to an ancien regime of limited resources), De Maistre famously honoured the despised executioner as the man on whom civilisation depended. Terror and only terror could maintain order. Reason is generally disconnected from our experience of what it is to be a human being and the evidence has mounted that he is often right on that score even if we disagree, which we do albeit with reasons that may be sentimental, with the conclusions he draws from that grim truth. There is too much sophistication of argument in these lectures for it to be at all useful to try and summarise them. They each stand as complete in themselves and difficult to simplify. He is particularly useful in showing how a thinker's ideas can shift into new territory, often inverting original intent as that thinker faces intractable problems created by an early idealism. For those interested in this theme, there is also his 'The Magus of the North' where he deals with J. G Hamann. He writes there at greater length on irrationalism in the eighteenth century. Hamann is often paired by Berlin with De Maistre as an enemy of the Enlightenment. A special word of respect to the Editor, Henry Hardy, is due. He has been meticulous both in attempting to give us the authentic voice of Berlin and ensuring that the lectures flow as they would have done on radio. The result is surprisingly readable for such a potentially dry subject.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Lizeth

    Una vez más Isaiah Berlin elabora una obra de excelencia. Quienes se adjudicaban como salvadores de la libertad, como Rousseau y Fitche y que tan grande influencia tuvieron en las ideologías liberales del mundo, resultaron ser que en la práctica diesen frutos distintos, es decir, construyeron muros dogmáticos para que la libertad fuese real. Por otro lado, personajes como Helvetius y Maistre, con ideas que hoy en día consideraríamos como absurdas, fueron abiertamente enemigos de dichas ideas acl Una vez más Isaiah Berlin elabora una obra de excelencia. Quienes se adjudicaban como salvadores de la libertad, como Rousseau y Fitche y que tan grande influencia tuvieron en las ideologías liberales del mundo, resultaron ser que en la práctica diesen frutos distintos, es decir, construyeron muros dogmáticos para que la libertad fuese real. Por otro lado, personajes como Helvetius y Maistre, con ideas que hoy en día consideraríamos como absurdas, fueron abiertamente enemigos de dichas ideas aclamadas en los siglos XVIII y XIX, y que sus posicionamientos los podemos tomar de la manera para ver el lado inofortuno de la libertad. Respecto a Hegel, ya sabemos que pinto el camino para que grandes personajes como Marx y Engels construyeran y solidificaran las teorías comunistas, que en términos reales, se tornaron antiliberales y autoritarias, donde actualmente, se podría decir que han quedado rezagadas y las políticas del mundo la han desaparecido poco a poco. Ahora, Saint Simón sin duda sigue estando en bocas de sociólogos y economistas en nuestra era, aunque pudiésemos decir que el materialismo que el desglosa en sus aportaciones está en sintonia con el marxismo, pero que es, un tanto más flexible que sus colegas, y el paso que lleva el adelante, siendo socialista, es que tales ideas aún laten en los estados de bienestar globales. ¡Que gran viaje nos hace recorrer Berlín con el valor de la libertad a través de la historia! Y aunque su énfasis es en relación de hace un par de siglos, es a razón de que dichas ideologías siguen palpitando en la vida política activa de los Estados. Isaiah hace replantearnos más dudas, como por ejemplo: ¿Si nace un nuevo Estado que valores axiológicos debieran aparecer en su crecimiento? ¿Es que tiene que haber un "soberano" que nos diga que hacer con nuestra libertad? ¿Podrá ser que si los individuos gozaramos de una racionalidad absoluta también sería lógico que disfrutemos de una libertad absoluta? ¿La libertad debe ser limitada sólo en cuanto sea a razón de otorgar una libertad mayor o una libertad generalizada? ¿Las distintas ópticas de libertad deben ser consensuadas y elegidas por los miembros de la sociedad? ¿Que hacer con la ceguera axiológica social, la solución real sería educar? ¿Pero bajo cuál concepto de libertad debemos enseñar?

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