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  • Published: 15 April 1999
  • ISBN: 9780712665520
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $42.99

Concepts and Categories

Philosophical Essays



'The most imaginative, distinguished and erudite of historians of ideas in this country' - Anthony Quinton, Spectator

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.'

  • Published: 15 April 1999
  • ISBN: 9780712665520
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $42.99

About the author

Isaiah Berlin

Isaiah Berlin was born in Riga, now capital of Latvia, in 1909. When he was six, his family moved to Russia, and in Petrograd in 1917 Berlin witnessed both Revolutions - Social Democratic and Bolshevik. In 1921 he and his parents emigrated to England, where he was educated at St Paul's School, London, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Apart from his war service in New York, Washington, Moscow and Leningrad, he remained at Oxford thereafter - as a Fellow of All Souls, then of New College, as Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, and as founding President of Wolfson College. He also held the Presidency of the British Academy.

His published work includes Karl Marx, Russian Thinkers, Concepts and Categories, Against the Current, Personal Impressions, The Sense of Reality, The Proper Study of Mankind, The Roots of Romanticism, The Power of Ideas, Three Critics of the Enlightenment, Freedom and Its Betrayal, Liberty, The Soviet Mind and Political Ideas in the Romantic Age. As an exponent of the history of ideas he was awarded the Erasmus, Lippincott and Agnelli Prizes; he also received the Jerusalem Prize for his lifelong defence of civil liberties. He died in 1997.

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Praise for Concepts and Categories

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

No one writes about large and abstract matters in a more richly nutritive and idiosyncratic way

Anthony Quinton

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

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