Isaiah Berlin was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century – a man who set ideas on fire. His defence of liberty and plurality was passionate and persuasive and inspired a generation. His ideas – especially his reasoned rejection of excessive certainty and political despotism – have become even more prescient and vital today. But who was the man behind such influential views?
Henry Hardy, Berlin’s decades-long editor and collaborator, offers an intimate and revealing picture of the self-deprecating philosopher.
Henry Hardy is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, Isaiah Berlin’s principal editor, and one of his literary trustees. He began editing Berlin in the mid-1970s (while a graduate student at Wolfson). Previously an editor at OUP, Hardy has been working full time on Berlin since 1990, and has now edited or co-edited 18 of his books, as well as a four-volume edition of his letters – the last volume of which (Affirming: Letters 1975-1997, co-edited with Mark Pottle) was published in September 2015 by Chatto.
Simon May is Visiting Professor of Philosophy at King’s College London. His latest books are Love: A New Understanding of an Ancient Emotion and The Power of Cute. He has written for the FT and the Washington Post, among other newspapers.