Concepts and Categories: Philosophical Essays

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9780712665520: Concepts and Categories: Philosophical Essays
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"The goal of philosophy is always the same, to assist men to understand themselves and thus to operate in the open, not wildly in the dark."--Isaiah Berlin


This volume of Isaiah Berlin's essays presents the sweep of his contributions to philosophy from his early participation in the debates surrounding logical positivism to his later work, which more evidently reflects his life-long interest in political theory, the history of ideas, and the philosophy of history. Here Berlin describes his view of the nature of philosophy, and of its main task: to uncover the various models and presuppositions--the concepts and categories--that men bring to their existence and that help form that existence. Throughout, his writing is informed by his intense consciousness of the plurality of values, the nature of historical understanding, and of the fragility of human freedom in the face of rigid dogma.


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This collection of eight essays spans the range of Isaiah Berlin's interests, including his role in the disputes of language philosophers in the 1930s, his interest in political philosophy, and his later attention to the history of ideas. In Berlin's preface, he records his decision to abandon philosophy for history in the 1940s, but by his own definition of philosophy, given in the first essay ("The Purpose of Philosophy"), he continued to be a philosopher par excellence, radically questioning the models, or categories, by which human beings understand their world. Berlin sees this as the perennial task of the philosopher (which he recognizes as "agonizing and thankless") and one he takes up in this collection with analyses in chapters such as "Verification" and "Equality."

It is doubtful now whether Berlin's view of philosophy would be taken as an exhaustive account of the enterprise, especially with the flourishing in the last 25 years of applied ethics and political philosophy. And it seems reasonable to suppose that philosophy will continue to involve speculative work about the proper ends of human life, as well as logical analysis. Berlin's paradoxical contribution, evident in this collection, was that in committing himself to a life of radical questioning of concepts and categories, he in fact proposed a purpose for life, namely the creation of a society that would not be duped by incoherent and idealistic models of the world. Radical philosophical questioning, that drive for clarity in language and for models of the world that are capable of empirical testing, is not in such circumstances the Sisyphean endeavor it might otherwise appear. --Jeff Petts, Amazon.co.uk

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"In a dark century, he showed what a life of the mind should be: skeptical, ironical, dispassionate and free."--Michael Ignatieff


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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Although Isaiah Berlin liked to say that he left philosophy for the history of ideas after the Second World War, there is a decided continuity between his more purely philosophical writings, most of which are collected in this volume, and the more historical work for which he is better known. Included here are Berlin s early arguments against logical positivism and later essays which more evidently reflect his life-long interest in political theory, intellectual history and the philosophy of history. In two related pieces he gives his view on the philosopher s task, to uncover the various models - the concepts and categories - that we bring to our experience, and that help to form it. In his own words The goal of philosophy is always the same, to assist men to understand themselves and thus operate in the open, and not wildly, in the dark. Seller Inventory # AAZ9780712665520

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Although Isaiah Berlin liked to say that he left philosophy for the history of ideas after the Second World War, there is a decided continuity between his more purely philosophical writings, most of which are collected in this volume, and the more historical work for which he is better known. Included here are Berlin s early arguments against logical positivism and later essays which more evidently reflect his life-long interest in political theory, intellectual history and the philosophy of history. In two related pieces he gives his view on the philosopher s task, to uncover the various models - the concepts and categories - that we bring to our experience, and that help to form it. In his own words The goal of philosophy is always the same, to assist men to understand themselves and thus operate in the open, and not wildly, in the dark. Seller Inventory # AAZ9780712665520

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