The Proper Study of Mankind by Isaiah Berlin

‘The Proper Study of Mankind is Man’ appears as a line in the poem An Essay on Man‘ by Alexander Pope in 1734. Isaiah Berlin chooses this as a title for a collection of his essentially humanistic writings.

Berlin ( was one of the leading thinkers of the last century and one of its finest writers. His life spanned all but 12 years of the twentieth century. The Proper Study of Mankind (1997) brings together his most celebrated essays: here the reader will find his famous essay on Tolstoy, ‘The Hedgehog and the Fox’; his penetrating portraits of contemporaries from Pasternak and Akhmatova to Churchill and Roosevelt; his essays on liberty and his exposition of pluralism; his defense of philosophy and history against assimilation to scientific method; and his brilliant studies of such intellectual originals as Machiavelli, Vico, and Herder. I cannot recommend this volume highly enough.

Available at £13.20 seems a tiny price to pay for such immense pleasure.

720 pages in Vintage Classics paperback edition

ISBN 978-0099582762

Isaiah Berlin

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