Isaiah Berlin Quotes

Enjoy the top 58 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Isaiah Berlin.

Isaiah Berlin Quotes

Only barbarians are not curious about where they come from, how they came to be where they are, where they appear to be going, whether they wish to go there, and if so, why, and if not, why not.
— Isaiah Berlin —

[People] cannot live without seeking to describe and explain the universe to themselves. The models they use in doing this must deeply affect their lives, not least when they are unconscious; much of [their] misery and frustration ... is due to the mechanical and unconscious, as well as deliberate, application of models where they do not work ... The goal of philosophy is always the same, to assist [people] to understand themselves and thus operate in the open and not wildly, in the dark.

— Isaiah Berlin

All central beliefs on human matters spring from a personal predicament.

— Isaiah Berlin

I have said that one of the distinguishing characteristics of a great man is that his active intervention makes what seemed highly improbable in fact happen.

— Isaiah Berlin

I can see how, with enough false education, enough widespread illusion and error, men can, while remaining men, believe this and commit the most unspeakable crimes.

— Isaiah Berlin

But to manipulate men, to propel them toward goals which you-the social reformers-see, but they may not, is to deny their human essence, to treat them as objects without wills of their own, and therefore to degrade them.

— Isaiah Berlin

He makes a vast contrast between nature, which is this elemental, capricious, perhaps causal, perhaps chance-directed entity, and man, who has morality, who distinguishes between desire and will, duty and interest, the right and the wrong, and acts accordingly, if need be against nature.

— Isaiah Berlin

To realise the relative validity of one's convictions and yet stand for them unflinchingly is what distinguishes a civilised man from a barbarian.

— Isaiah Berlin

Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

— Isaiah Berlin

Philosophers are adults who persist in asking childish questions.

— Isaiah Berlin

Liberty and equality, spontaneity and security, happiness and knowledge, mercy and justice - all these are ultimate human values, sought for themselves alone; yet when they are incompatible, they cannot all be attained, choices must be made, sometimes tragic losses accepted in the pursuit of some preferred ultimate end.

— Isaiah Berlin

If, as I believe, the ends of men are many, and not all of them are in principle compatible with each other, then the possibility of conflict-and of tragedy-can never wholly be eliminated from human life, either personal or social. The necessity of choosing between absolute claims is then an inescapable characteristic of the human condition. This gives its value to freedom as Acton conceived of it-as an end in itself, and not as a temporary need, arising out of our confused notions and irrational and disordered lives, a predicament which a panacea could one day put right

— Isaiah Berlin

There is no a prior reason for supposing that the truth, when it is discovered, will necessarily prove interesting.

— Isaiah Berlin

Life may be seen through many windows, none of them necessarily clear or opaque, less or more distorting than any of the others.

— Isaiah Berlin

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