Isaiah Berlin was one of my most formative intellectual influences. He single-handedly engendered my enduring fascination with the history of ideas. I plan on re-reading all of his books soon, right after I get caught up on all the new books I’ve accumulated recently. Which brings me to my point: the NYRB has republished a short acceptance speech of his from twenty years ago which elegantly encapsulates a couple of his most fundamental, recurring themes. I do implore you to go read it, as it would be bad form for me to copy and paste the entire thing, a powerful temptation indeed.
October 27, 2014 @ 11:58 pm
More optimistic than your usual post. We can only hope he's right. But good choice not going with "The Weighed, Measured, and Compromised Blog."
October 28, 2014 @ 9:06 pm
Personally, as far as optimism goes, I'm still waiting to hear a convincing response to the concern over how, as one writer put it, “the mansion of modern freedom stands on an ever-expanding base of fossil-fuel use.” What will happen as countries like China and India approach Western standards of living? What's to prevent perennial plagues like war and famine from reducing the ecological arrears?
Mostly, what I hear is just some form of, "Since we started harnessing the power of fossil fuels a few centuries ago, we've always been able to invent our way out of trouble and keep progressing, so we'll probably do that here too," which seems to me to be nothing more than a faith-based fallacy.
October 30, 2014 @ 8:15 pm
Yeah, there's that, but Berlin was saying that progress has been made that can't/won't be completely undone. Jebus but I hope he's right.