Great Writers of the 20th Century: Isaiah Berlin
A careful analysis of Sir Isaiah Berlin's writings and lectures suggests a multi-layered Jewish identity. On the one hand, a deep commitment to Zionism and Israel, growing out of a merciless analysis of the failures of emancipation and assimilation. Yet it is this same insight into the conflicted identities of many Jewish intellectuals which suggest to Berlin the richness and universal significance of the contribution of such people like Karl Marx, Benjamin Disraeli and Moses Hess to the spiritual and political life of European society in the 19th century.
Shlomo Avineri contributed the chapter on Sir Isaiah Berlin's Jewish identity to the recently published The One and the Many: Reading Isaiah Berlin, edited by George Crowder and Henry Hardy.
Alan Ryan is Warden of New College, Oxford. He was an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford, where he first encountered Isaiah Berlin; thereafter, he wrote on issues in philosophy and politics, including three intellectual biographies of John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell and John Dewey. He is presently finishing a one volume history of western political thought, provisionally entitled From the Persian Wars to the Gulf Wars.
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