In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure
Chair: Simon May
Isaiah Berlin was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century – a man who set ideas on fire. His defence of liberty and plurality was passionate and persuasive and inspired a generation. His ideas – especially his reasoned rejection of excessive certainty and political despotism – have become even more prescient and vital today. But who was the man behind such influential views? Henry Hardy, Berlin’s decades-long editor and collaborator, offers an intimate and revealing picture of the self-deprecating philosopher.
Henry Hardy is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, Isaiah Berlin’s principal editor, and one of his literary trustees. He began editing Berlin in the mid-1970s (while a graduate student at Wolfson). Previously an editor at OUP, Hardy has been working full time on Berlin since 1990, and has now edited or co-edited 18 of his books, as well as a four-volume edition of his letters.
Simon May was born in London, the son of a violinist and a brush manufacturer. Visiting professor of philosophy at King’s College London, his books include Love: A New Understanding of an Ancient Emotion; Love: A History; Nietzsche’s Ethics and his War on ‘Morality’; The Power of Cute; and Thinking Aloud, a collection of his own aphorisms. His work has been translated into ten languages and regularly features in major newspapers worldwide. For many years he has intended to move ‘back’ to Berlin, but has yet to do so.