Isaiah Berlin Quotes
36 Sourced Quotes
There exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision … and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory … The first kind of intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the hedgehogs, the second to the foxes.
This they do in the service of an imaginary science; and, like the astrologers and soothsayers whom they have succeeded, cast up their eyes to the clouds, and speak in immense, unsubstantiated images and similes, in deeply misleading metaphors and allegories, and make use of hypnotic formulae with little regard for experience, or rational argument, or tests of proven reliability. Thereby they throw dust in their own eyes as well as in ours, obstruct our vision of the real world, and further confuse an already sufficiently bewildered public about the relations of morality to politics, and about the nature and methods of the natural sciences and historical studies alike.
The most passionate, consistent, extreme and implacable enemy of the Enlightenment and... all forms of rationalism... was Johann Georg Hamann. His influence, direct and indirect, upon the romantic revolt against universalism and scientific method... was considerable and perhaps crucial.
The notion of the perfect whole, the ultimate solution in which all good things coexist, seems to me not merely unobtainable—that is a truism—but conceptually incoherent.......Some among the great goods cannot live together. That is a conceptual truth. We are doomed to choose, and every choice may entail an irreparable loss.
By freedom he meant a condition in which men were not prevented from choosing both the object and the manner of their worship. For him only a society in which this condition was realised could be called fully human. Its realisation was an ideal which Mill regarded as more precious than life itself.