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Three Critics of the Enlightenment


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Jonathan Israel ix Editor's Preface xix Note on References xxv VICO AND HERDER 1 Author's Preface 5 Introduction 7 The Philosophical Ideas of Giambattista Vico 26 Vico's Theory of Knowledge and Its Sources 151 Herder and the Enlightenment 208 THE MAGUS OF THE NORTH 301 Editor's Preface 305 Foreword to the German Edition 312 Author's Preface 317 1. Introduction 320 2. Life 324 3. The Central Core 341 4. The Enlightenment 345 5. Knowledge 350 6. Language 390 7. Creative Genius 410 8. Politics 423 9. Conclusion 428 Excursus to Chapter 6 444 Bibliographical Note 449 Appendix to the Second Edition 453 Giambattista Vico: Man of Genius 455 The Reputation of Vico 479 The Workings of Providence 484 Hamann's Origins 486 Letters 489 Index 517

About the Author

Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) was one of the leading intellectual historians of the twentieth century and the founding president of Wolfson College, University of Oxford. His many books include "The Hedgehog and the Fox", "The Crooked Timber of Humanity", "The Roots of Romanticism", and "Against the Current" (all Princeton). Henry Hardy, a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, is one of Isaiah Berlin's literary trustees. He has edited several other volumes by Berlin, and is currently preparing Berlin's letters and remaining unpublished writings for publication.


"Isaiah Berlin's main preoccupation was to understand the modern reaction against the Enlightenment. These essays on Counter-Enlightenment thinkers are classics and also illuminate his own ideas about the place of reason in politics. An essential volume."-Mark Lilla, Columbia University
"Isaiah Berlin is among the finest intellectual historians of recent decades. Yet his position is somewhat peculiar: for while he is clearly a scholar of enormous erudition, the characteristic style of his work is closer to that of brilliant conversation than of conventional historical scholarship. His works on Vico, Herder, and Hamann deal with thinkers who were at odds with main currents of the Enlightenment. For anyone with a historical sense, the recrudescence of so many of the characteristic notions of the 'Counter-Enlightenment' under the rubric of 'postmodernism' is striking. The recovery of these ideas is all the more effective for being a critical one: Berlin reminds his readers of some of the unfortunate historical consequences of the ideas in question."-Jerry Z. Muller, Catholic University of America
"Isaiah Berlin's main preoccupation throughout his productive life was understand the nature of the modern reaction against the Enlightenment. These essays on Vico, Herder, and Hamann belong with his other profound and influential studies of the leading figures of what he called the Counter-Enlightenment. But they are also crucial for anyone hoping to understand Berlin's own analysis of modern life and politics, which has received increasing attention in recent years. Anyone interested in Berlin or those he studied will find this an essential volume."-Mark Lilla, University of Chicago

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