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Conversations with Isaiah Berlin 2nd Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-1905559039
ISBN-10: 1905559038
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About the Author

Ramin Jahanbegloo currently lectures in Political Philosophy and Comparative Politics at the University of Toronto. Isaiah Berlin was a professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford and president of the British Academy. He received many honorary degrees as well as the Erasmus, Lippincott, Jerusalem, and Agnelli Prizes.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Halban Publishers; 2 edition (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905559038
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905559039
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,791,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on July 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Given all the attention being paid to the centenary of Sir Isaiah Berlin, including several books with contributors talking about him and his ideas, it seemed an ideal time (in addition to reading the second volume of his letters) to hear Berlin discourse directly. This book consists of 1988 Berlin interviews conducted by Ramin Jahanbegloo, originally for a French publication. There are five conversations included, each built around a central theme. The format is simple: a question is asked (and Jahanbegloo is very familiar with IB's work) and Berlin responds; it is all quite informal, relaxed and pleasant to follow.

Many, many aspects of Berlin's life and ideas are covered. The first conversation is devoted to Berlin's background and is quite interesting. In addition to biographical details, he discusses some of writing and ideas. The second conversation ("The Birth of Modern Politics") is much more substantive, with Berlin touching upon Machiavelli, Hobbes, his theories of monism and the contributions of the "counter-enlightenment," his antipathy to Hannah Arendt, and his high opinion of Herder. Additional substantive points are addressed in the third conversation, including, Hume, German thought, some musical topics, Zionism, socialism and Marxism. Freedom is the keynote of the fourth conversation, including pluralism and Oxford philosophy. The final conversation, "Personal Impressions," demonstrates not only the incredible range of Berlin's personal contacts (everyone from Churchill to Weizman and Nehru), but also his intimate familiarity with key personages in the development of European political thought.

In any book with this format, some topics get too much attention and others too little--but the overall balance is good.
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