Isaiah Berlin became one of our centurys most important political theorists for liberty and liberalism in an age of totalitarianism. He was born in Riga, Latvia in 1909 into a well to do Jewish family. At the age of 12 he moved to Petrograd and experienced first hand the Bolshevik revolution, which would later influence his intellectual ideas about totalitarianism (Gray 3). In 1921 his family moved to London and sent Isaiah to school. His schooling lead him to Oxford where he took a position as philosophy professor in 1931. His English schooling led him to become a disciple of classical liberalism in the English tradition of Mill, Locke, and others (Berger). During World War II the British put him to work in their Foreign Service department where he became a favorite advisor of Churchill (Honderich 92). After the war his major political theory was developed as he moved into political philosophy and history as his areas of emphasis. His most famous and important works, a lecture, Two Concepts on Liberty, and an essay, The Hedgehog and the Fox where produced in the 1950s. Knighted in 1957 and he became the first Jewish fellow at Oxfords All Souls College and chair of social and political theory at Oxford. After that he later became president of the newly created Wolfson College and then President of the British Academy (Honderich 92). After his death in 1997 historian Arthur Schlesinger stated that he is one of the finest liberal thinkers and political theorists of the twentieth century (Schlesinger 1). Isaiah Berlin is unique among intellectuals in the fact the he didnt produce a magnum opus during his life. He stated, that he had no desire to sit in front of a desk with a blank piece of paper, and didnt care about it influencing his academic legacy (Berger). Most of his works came in the form of essays and lectures, as his two most famous are, The Hedgehog and the Fox and …
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