History, with a capital H for some writers, is also the subject of Berlin's analysis. There is a view that history and its study should somehow discover the purpose of events and determine the pattern that Providence the capitalisation is intentional has laid down so that we can learn from it. Berlin's dissection of this medieval idea is a pleasure to read. There may well be patterns in history and no doubt we can learn from the earlier mistakes of our predecessors, but the fact that similar things happen over and over again and we never quite get rid of some forms of bigotry suggests that we don't.
Order and patterns of events and behaviour are not a necessary part of the universe. Sometimes stuff just happens; not every event has a 'purpose' and it is not the function of history or historians to reveal the purpose of every occurrence. History is not a science and it doesn't follow rules like physics. And yes, we can blame Hitler for his actions. Above all, the style and quality of Berlin's writing make this a very difficult book to put down.
His writing is so clear that his ideas flow easily and his arguments develop naturally. A great pleasure. View all 4 comments. Jul 15, Bruce rated it really liked it. While reading Four Essays on Liberty not the expanded version , I felt sure I would criticize Berlin's verbosity and repetitiveness.
But finally I'm reminded that an essay is, by definition, an exploration of a subject, not the author's final thoughts. There is in these essays a sense of Berlin advancing ideas he is not necessarily totally convinced of. And from the introduction, which is a reply to his critics, and several footnotes, it's clear Berlin is eager to receive, ponder and learn from While reading Four Essays on Liberty not the expanded version , I felt sure I would criticize Berlin's verbosity and repetitiveness. And from the introduction, which is a reply to his critics, and several footnotes, it's clear Berlin is eager to receive, ponder and learn from criticism.
I still think, however, the book too long for the amount of solid intellectual substance it provides. The first three essays center around three basic ideas, respectively: 1 The decreasing acknowledgment in the twentieth century of the importance and efficacy of ideas, 2 The unexamined determinism of many historians, and 3 How leaders of men have misused man's need for positive liberty -- liberty to do something -- in the name of a higher nature that must be developed. The is a gross simplification, for many other valuable auxiliary points are developed, but he also spends inordinate swathes of text elaborating theses that were already clear pages before.
The best and most succinct essay is the last, "John Stuart Mill and the Ends of Life," which superbly analyzes the strengths and fallacies of Mill's theory of liberty. There are some interesting things in here, but his style is very high-flown in a way which gets obnoxious, and he has a tendency to discuss broad ranges of ideas at once, often leading to vague conclusions, blatant misinterpretations of other authors in the service of a narrative, or poetic wanking with no apparent end in sight I didn't find this very informative.
Why not just read the authors he's talking about rather than his endlessly repetitious monologue about them? May 19, Zahreen rated it it was amazing Shelves: academic , need-to-re-read , favorites. Berlin is one of my favorite political philosophers - I think he's absolutely brilliant and very relevant to today's political debates, particularly in the field of bioethics, which is of particular interest to me.
Feb 22, Bill Berg rated it liked it.
I rate the book a 3 because it is going to be hard for many to get through it. The book spends a good deal of time on the philosophical issue of determinism. Science at least up to Quantum Mechanics assumed that "everything just happened" and that WHEN science discovered all the laws of nature including biology, we would discover that everything was fully determined at the point of the Big Bang, including me writing this blog. I'm not going to go into the arguments for determinism As he says on p17; "Unless men as held to posess some attribute over and above those which they have in common with other natural objects -- animals, plants, things wether the difference is itself called natural or not , the moral command not to treat men as animals or things has to rational foundation.
Negative liberty is essentially "freedom from" Positive liberty is about "how am I governed", with demcracy being one of the main proposals.
Clearly there is a conflict here -- if you leave the wolves alone, they will eat the sheep. OTOH, if you fully protect and care for the sheep, they become essentially slaves to the system that "gives" them their "freedoms" I found the discussion of the youth and young adulthood of John Stuart Mill to be quite interesting -- I was vaguely aware of it, but Berlin covers it well.
Mill's father raised him in strict atheism, materialism, reason, and very little of even poetry In his early adulthood he felt life was purposeless, his will was paralyzed and he fell into deep despair wishing for death. Apparently living in a choiceless, loveless, deterministic universe was not really all that much fun!
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On and Berlin captures the true horror of Marxism, Utilitarianism and the like. He starts with the example of the Dostoevsky character Ivan Karamazov rejects the potential to consign one child to torture and death for the happiness of many -- an "easy decision" for a true utilitarian. As he puts the sense that utterly horrifes us as we think about Facism and Communism is the following Thoughts of the conversion of "citizens" into "consumers", social media anti-tribes, and the modern knee jerk dictates of Political Correctness come to mind.
It's not a page turner, however it is justifiably a work that is often referenced, and worth the effort to make a bit of a slog. Aug 01, Mostafa Shalash rated it it was ok. The last chapter cemented rating 4.
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It is a quick essay about thoughts of the John Stuart Mill, not the biggest fan of the analyzing other works, more so, when you close the book with it, even furthermore, the best chapter was penultimate so the book reached its peek 60 pages before the ending. What I did really like was a division of the liberties on the "positive" and "negative" didn't really have that categorizing before and kinda crystalize something for me. An overall good book about liberty a The last chapter cemented rating 4. An overall good book about liberty and supporting its cause. Feb 14, Yazmina-Michele de Gaye rated it it was amazing.
The question of liberty within the limits of our contemporary social organisation, concerns me and whilst not wanting to over-simplify the complex issues surrounding FREEDOM, I am actually re-reading it from cover 2 cover, just to be able to retain all its little pearls of wisdo i am so engaged in this book, with a different cover, BTW, a reprint Write a Reflection? Why reflective writing?
Reflection offers you the opportunity to consider how your personal experiences and observations shape your thinking and your acceptance of new ideas. Professors often ask students to write reading reflections. They do this to encourage you to explore your own ideas about a text, to express your opinion rather than summarise the opinions of others. Reflective writing can help you to improve your analytical skills because it requires.
Four Essays on Liberty
Before my English class, I viewed writing as a frustrating assignment obligation. However, this class has taught me that writing is much more than that, instead it stands as a contributing form of communication that is extremely important in my everyday life. The knowledge of writing that I have acquired directly impacts my life as a student now, and my life as a health care provider in the years to come. If I do not use an effective method of writing, I will not be able to deliver information.
Writing In biology has taught me a lot about scientific writing and just writing in general. From this class I feel as if my writing skills have drastically improved over the semester, making me a more proficient writer. I used to consider the task of writing appalling and demanding as it would take me hours to complete, but now at the conclusion of the semester that is not the case. Each project give me a new set of valuable skills that I will be able to use far into my future career, helping me.
Writing courses are classes that are there to help students become familiar with formal, written English as well as come into their own as writers. The curriculum should focus on grammar, punctuation, usage, mechanics, writing style, organization and clarity and non-traditional compositions.
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Yet, I have been in many writing courses where we hardly wrote. Since the beginning of this semester and course, my writing and composing processes have changed dramatically from an unorganized system of writing to a more improved writing system.
In high school, I use to wait until the last minute to get all my papers. The development of writing begins as early as we learn how to write letters in preschool or kindergarten. Writing grows as we learn to read and write throughout our school days and beyond. Everyone has a unique story of his or her writing experiences; some have horrible experience, while others may have mentors that inspired them.
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Many years have passed sense learning to write, that. In my history as a writer any subject, assignment, or just writing that I have done that I enjoyed was exciting and fun to write. When composing papers on subjects I am interested in, writing becomes more enjoyable. Writing can do wonders for you.
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