Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Berlin, Isaiah (1909–1997)
Isaiah Berlin is best known for his defense of negative liberty and critique of positive liberty. His analysis of nationalism has also been influential, and his concept of value pluralism is increasingly discussed by contemporary theorists. In addition, he made significant contributions in the history of ideas—especially to the study of nineteenth-century Russian thinkers, of Counter-Enlightenment writers such as Giambattista Vico and Johann Gottfried Herder, and of the nature of historical explanation. Berlin was born in Riga, in what is now Latvia. His family were middle-class Russian Jews, his father a successful timber merchant. After moving to Petrograd, the Berlins experienced at first hand the revolutions of 1917, eventually leaving Russia and settling in England in 1921. Berlin studied philosophy at Oxford, where he remained for most of his life, apart from service during World War II as a British official in New York and Washington, DC. A brief posting ...