Although Isaiah Berlin liked to say that he left philosophy for the history of ideas after the Second World War, there is a decided continuity between his more purely philosophical writings, most of which are collected in this volume, and the more historical work for which he is better known. Included here are Berlin's early arguments against logical positivism and later essays which more evidently reflect his life-long interest in political theory, intellectual history and the philosophy of history. In two related pieces he gives his view on the philosopher's task, to uncover the various models - the concepts and categories -that we bring to our experience, and that help to form it. In his own words 'The goal of philosophy is always the same, to assist men to understand themselves and thus operate in the open, and not wildly, in the dark. '
"Few writers and intellectuals command the awe and admiration accorded to Sir Isaiah Berlin, and with good reason. His wide-ranging erudition, humane scepticism and elegant prose set him apart" * Economist * "Isaiah Berlin's many admirers and readers will be glad to have this book; and those too young to have had the chance to listen to his lectures might well begin their acquaintance by reading it" * British Book News * "He left the moral quality of his voice behind him, in the long tumbling paragraphs and the clauses within clauses of his best essays, and it is to these that we can turn when we need to remind ourselves what intellectual life can be: joyful, free of illusion, and vitally alive" -- Michael Ignatieff * New York Review of Books * "His writing reflects the diversionary excursions, unexpected self-interruptions and recommencements, of a great talker... We are assured in his company of a supremely intelligent, highly civilized approach to whatever he touches upon" * New York Times * "No one writes about large and abstract matters in a more richly nutritive and idiosyncratic way" -- Anthony Quinton