Philosophy is the love for wisdom.

Philosophers are known for their love to engage in critical thinking. Many people believe that philosophy is difficult because it deals with complex topics.

Philosophy enriches the mind with knowledge beyond fathom. In ancient times, many societies valued philosophy. The Greeks and Romans, for instance, lived their lives around critical thinking.

If you’re often amazed by the benefits of philosophy and want to be a philosopher, only the sky is the limit. Here’re some tips to become a philosopher in your area of interest:

7 Tips to Help You Walk the Path to Becoming a Philosopher

1) Question everything that’s around you

Critically examine the world and how your area of interest is connected with life. Learn to be free from ignorance and seek the answer to everything. Learn to develop excellent observation skills and often reflect on life.

Don’t ignore anything. Seek to understand everything and be honest about your thoughts. Put aside all pre-conceived notions and subjects that all your beliefs scrutiny.

Don’t settle for other people’s thoughts and beliefs. To be philosophical, you must think about your take on matters. After you come up with your ideas, develop arguments about it, and be open to other philosophers’ challenges.

Your aim shouldn’t be to settle on being right. Be a person who asks appropriate questions and looks for an understanding of the matters at hand.

2) Read philosophical books

Seek the ideas of past philosophers.

You’re not the first examiner of life; neither are you the first to investigate the field of your interest. In the past, philosophers gained knowledge on various fields.

Therefore, reading the work of previous philosophers can help you come up with new ideas. You’ll get to ask yourself questions that they didn’t answer to come up with the right answers.

The more you engage yourself in the philosophical works of others, the better your chances of becoming a good philosopher.

3) Learn a new skill

You need the tools of reason and logic to be an excellent philosophical analyzer. Also, seek the concept of power.

To be influential in your field, you must know how to use the tools of power. You must instill authority and be able to convince people about your thoughts.

You can also learn a new skill to enhance your knowledge base. For instance, you can learn how to use the best players with a cast iron base for improved stability.

4) Expand Your Thoughts

Think big about your subject of interest. Engage in deep thoughts about life, how humans came to be, how they die, and the relationship between humans and the environment. Be flexible in your imagination.

Be curious and yearn to know more than the average person. Indulge yourself in your area of interest, and don’t get to a comfort zone. You’ll be able to come up with questions.

Try to answer them with the knowledge you’ve gained.

5) Take part in debates related to your area of interest

Take part in as many debates as possible in your topic of interest. Be a good listener, and also engage yourself actively. You’ll learn how to think both critically and freely, concerning the matter.

The more you exchange ideas with others, the more likely you’ll find the right answers to your questions. Don’t focus on winning the debates, but rather how to learn and boost your thinking skills.

Be open-minded because there’s always someone more enlightened than you.

In your debates, be keen to keep your arguments logical. Argue with sound evidence. Practice criticism of cases if you want to achieve the goal of being a good philosopher.

6) Write your ideas down

Take note of your thoughts on the matter at hand. Include even the ideas that you think don’t make sense simply because others will think so.

To mature up, go through everything you have written down and learn from the areas of your mistake.

If you’re stuck and unaware of where to start, write down the questions from previous philosophers concerning the matter. Follow the same path that other philosophers journeyed until you’re mature enough to come up with your questions and walk alone.

To gain the highest powers of philosophy, make your thoughts continuous throughout your writing. This makes it easy for you to come up with many insights into your investigation regarding the point of concern.

7) Learn to share your knowledge

Once you have garnered a reasonable amount of experience, start teaching others. The greatest philosophers were also teachers. The more you share knowledge, the more you gain and master it.


Philosophy helps in building your cognitive ability. However, most current education systems don’t teach it. Anyone who engages in the art of philosophy has found the ocean of wisdom.

Take, for example, Socrates, was the father of philosophy in the West. He’s well known for his quotes and wisdom that influenced most things that followed.

We hope that you found these tips useful in becoming a philosopher. Philosophy is the mother of wisdom. Therefore, you must first seek knowledge to get wisdom, and so on.

 Table tennis is not just a game for physical activity but also a sport that has several lessons when it comes to the acquisition of life skills. The brain game supports all manner of social and physical interactions to make sure that the players have positive skills ideal to face life challenges.  You have to buy table tennis equipment so you can play at home. This is one sport that instills a sense of discipline for you are responsible for all your actions. Moreover, it gives you the chance to master your weaknesses in a bid to improve. You cannot fail to mention the tolerance levels that come with this sport. Let us look at the in-depth life skills that one can learn from the sport.

Instills a sense of responsibility

This is a game that has rules you should follow in playing table tennis. This teaches you to be disciplined in line with the rules and not forgetting the fact that your overall goal is to win. You are the only player in the game, this means that every effort you make whether good or bad it is your own making. This is a skill that allows you to accept the outcomes of the game which is a good life skill. It teaches one to accept failure but it should not deter you from not achieving your goals such that you be more focused on your goal.

Allows you to understand yourself

Just like life, you need to know your weaknesses and strengths in a bid to blend them to your success. Ping pong is a game that, yes you get to know the rules but apart from that, you have to understand where your strength in gaming is so as to capitalize on it for a win. This helps you o conquer your opponents based on his weaknesses too.

Teaches you tolerance

You have to put up with a renowned and poor gamer at the same time. When you have a poor gamer then you do not abandon the game but have to tolerate him even if he does not add value to your gaming skills. Remember, the discipline we just talked about in the first point. You can get very intimidating gamers who want to instill fear to their advantage. This is the time you now need to have exercised the tolerance skills in life.

Enhances logic and reason

This is a mind game that involves a lot of fast thinking in a bid to learn your opponent’s weaknesses for a customized play for the sake of a win. This is important when your gaming levels are ar par. In life, you have to make critical decisions. You can only make the right ones if and only if your mind is used to such kind of decision-making process in which ping pong makes it real. Life is a jungle and there are certain and uncertain issues that come in handy that need timely action. There is a difference when it comes to the acquired life skills of a person living a sedentary life and one that is physically involved. These are better for ping pong players for they have now doubled skills acquisition- mind and physical activity.

Are all teachers is a philosophy teacher? One for the quality must have is that they are involved in students’ everyday lives either directly or indirectly. As some will not involve in students’ daily lives, or probably not doing good in teaching to. Lacking this quality meaning the teacher is lack of enthusiasm, motivation and interest. Otherwise, if you have those criteria, a person would be motivated to improve the students in every aspect so that they can be a greater value towards society, themselves and for the family. To inspire students not just good in grades but also be a good person with lots fo values in life.

Wearing wrinkled clothes will be a less good impression towards almost everyone. Have you had those days have to wear wrinkled clothes? For whatever reasons it may be, if you were to have a travel garment steams with you it would definitely resolve this eye sore situations.

As you may aware, ironing is the least favourites things to do for a household. Some may even be sent to the laundry for ironing and others would hire helpers weekly to do the ironing. Different fabric and design will determine how ironing should be done. The different size and shape make it more challenging to. Definitely once in a lifetime for most of us had an experience in ironing gone wrong. It is super frustrating accidents to anyone who experience it.

Old fashion ways would be using an iron that known to us since our grandmother time. As time change so does the technology in ironing. It is a high demand for using handheld steamers from across the globe. Is there any difference between these two? The purpose is the same, to remove wrinkles from your clothes. Why would you pay higher for the same purpose? You can also read more about garment steamers here:

Here is why:
• Save time
Using steamers will be much faster than ironing. As dry clothes, too thin or too thick fabric will take longer to iron, using steamer is the solutions as it removes wrinkles faster. You can save plenty of time compared using irons. Which will be a benefit for housewives, working adults and students who obviously have much more important things to do.
• Hygiene
It does not only remove wrinkles, but it will also kill germs and odours too. This would add advantage for those fabrics that meant for dry clean.
• Fabric quality
Conventional iron will and can damage your delicate fabric such as silk. It even can fade your fabric colours. Yes, you can adjust the iron according to the fabric, but you must be careful and alert at all times of which fabric for which setting.

Fresh and free wrinkles You have those days as on the go, your clothes will have wrinkles from sitting, leaning or forgot to iron as you are late. It is frustrating to face this daily. There are solutions for this because you can get a travel garment steamer which is fit on your bag when you travel. Worry free of forgetting to iron some part or full part of the clothes and sitting on the office, plane, car or train for too long with business meeting up next. You can literally start steaming anytime and anywhere. Plus, you can get it at a very affordable price. You can stay pretty, well groomed and wrinkles free not just in the morning but at all time.

Today, both men and women have valued the woodworking jobs in the market. Gender doesn’t matter when it comes to working with chisel and saws. What matters is the outcome of the job and getting a reward from it We don’t all have to work in offices in order top achieve our goals since there is an innate aspiration of creation in all of us.creating anything from wood is perceived as a difficult activity by many. However, these activities teaches us some life skills on how to perfectly handle these jobs. Lets review some of them.

Sense of satisfaction
If woodworking is your career in life, then it will be easy and simple for you to perform the job. When you finalize a task, you definitely gain some gratification in you You feel proud for a task well completed. creating something from scratch by fixing woods and nails, and finally coming up with an amazing product is worth commendable job. transform and build your career today through woodworking activities.

Who doesn’t like saving the little coin in hand? Each and everyone of us would like to decorate, build and make repairs solely in our homes. Now, in order to to this, you ought to have the necessary tools and skills. having your own skills, You don’t have to depend on a worker who always take advantage of us. Get in the kitchen, do your repairs and gain confidence in your work. Today, woodworkers are highly demanded ens as such offering your skills to other people is of your benefit.

Good for mental health
The carpentry process involves various steps to be followed to complete the project. From the starting point of planning the process, measuring, cutting as well as assembling the tools, we involve our mental process. We need to input all our thinking in the job in order to perform well Through this, we try to fight with negative emotions and stress and give meditation a way. We tend to concentrate on specific activity thereby reducing incoming stress. By this we improve our mental health.

In working with woods, there is no short cuts to success. You have to be determined and patience to achieve your goal. Carpentry process requires you to accept any defeat, and start the process again. Additional durability for woodworking tools is very essential to any carpenter. You need to choose the type of wood that will make best furniture’s and make them stand out All types of wood can be used in carpentry but choosing a durable, versatile and beautiful wood will hike you to the next level. The type of wood you choose to use determines the selling price of your end product. Not all woods are ideally used for furniture’s. Hard woods and softwoods are mostly used by carpenters. While they are used for decorative purposes, hardwoods last longer than softwoods. Some of the durable woods include; mahogany,pine, maple and walnut, beech and ash for blending. For more information on woodwork, try to get much knowledge from websites such as

Mindfulness meditation is a general mental practice that is mainly focused on directing one’s mind towards their personal life experiences such as thoughts and emotions. It is an activity that involves a series of activities such as muscle relaxations and breathing practices. Philosophically, mindfulness meditations help individuals to have a better understanding of who they really are and how they can manage and control various emotions in their life. The philosophy behind mindfulness meditation came about to simply help people see through their minds and heart. However, this practice requires a suitable environment that will provide maximum concentration and permit the person involved in such an activity to fully engage in it Surprisingly, a bathroom can be such a perfect place for mindfulness mediation due to various reasons. Firstly, bathrooms are very private and cool places that offer absolute privacy for mindfulness meditation. People might fear to perform such an activity whenever they are surrounded by people. Likewise, the confidence in doing this activity is usually low if people are paying attention to what you are doing. Furthermore, even if you might engage in mindfulness meditation in front of people, it is without a doubt that you will not realize the full importance of this practice.

However, the conditions present in a bathroom are amazingly superb for medication. The cool breeze coming from the shower will definitely transition your mind to the world of mediation. Additionally, the reflection of some inside a bathroom will bring out the reality of mediation simply because you will have all the time you need to in order to complete your process effectively.

Apparently, effective mediation does not simply come on a silver platter. Considerations must be given in setting up your bathroom so that you achieve more Discussed below are some of the ways that can help you set up your bathroom for mindfulness meditation.

• Set up a more spacious bathroom. Commonly, people will always consider building a very small bathroom simply because they see it as just a bathing place. However, if you are that kind of person who loves meditation, then give your bathroom a large enough space. A big space will allow you to takes various postures that you need while meditating without restricting you There some meditation postures that require yoga styles and you will, therefore, need a large space.

• Paint. Meditation rooms require amazing paint that will make the mind shift completely and get empowered. Not only the does your house need proper painting but also the bathroom. This will encourage you to spend enough time in your meditation.

• Shower curtains. Although the bathroom is a private place in a real sense, shower curtains are also very important when it comes to meditation. Space goes hand in hand with the curtains because you can always have your bathroom partitioned by curtains to specifically set aside a particular area for mindfulness meditation.

• Candle stands.
You can set up scented candles I’m that have different colors for the purposes of boosting the air breeze and being more dedicated.

• Water heater. Feeling the warmth of the water heater because the water heater makes it relaxing due to the comfort created. Warm water relaxes the muscles and its therefore necessary to have your bathroom fitted with water heaters.

Nevertheless, bathrooms need to have meditation music and videos that will guide you properly. You can fix screens or speakers to offer such services. Additionally, consider looking for online reviews that will help you choose the highly recommended water heater systems for your bathrooms.

Grilling as a form of cooking is a practice that most individuals engage in. Most particularly in the hotels, you will always see chefs lining up alongside their grilling machines while undertaking their assigned tasks. Most of these individuals understand and take such a work to be just a mere form of income without knowing that it teaches them some life lessons. Additionally, to some people, it is taken as a fun way of cooking. However, grilling teaches us so many life lessons.

Cooking using a griller teaches us on how to multi-task. In most occasions, whether you are an employed chef or any other person, we usually engage in various activities while using a griller. For example, you can find your yourself adjusting the temperature while at the same time turning the food. Grilling equips us with multi-tasking techniques where we can handle various issues at the same time.

Time management is also another life lesson that we get from grilling. This happens most specifically on occasions where we use the most advanced grilling devices to cook. You can adjust the temperatures required to that your meat to the expected levels and estimate the time it will take for the meat to be ready. More advanced grillers are fitted with time devices which will give you the exact time that your food will be ready. In this case, we can always engage ourselves in other useful activities thereby saving time A good number of employed people often set their food in a griller and go for work. 

Patience is another virtue that we acquire from grilling. A chef will always take his or her time in roasting the meat so that it can be properly cooked. Serving your customers the food that is not properly cooked will actually send them away. It is therefore very important to wait patiently in order to get the best results. We need patience under various circumstances that we go through in life. Furthermore, the proper temperatures and the setting up of the griller that we usually do shows the determination that we have in ensuring that we get well-cooked food. In life, a determination is required so that we can achieve our goals.

Basing in the traditional grillers, most people that use it to cook for example roasting the meat, they usually get some burns as a result of high temperatures. Burns will always be seen on chefs especially those preparing the electric smoker ham. Turning the heated ham will always result in some burns due to high temperatures. However, they usually persevere until the food is ready. Likewise, we can persevere in life and ignore all the challenges if we want to achieve our goals.

Just as we wait for the food to get ready in or on a griller and expecting that it will be cooked in the right way, we learn to be hopeful in whatever we do. However, we should always expect both the negative and positive results. These are some of the life lessons that can be learned through grilling. Grilling is, therefore, a teaching tool that equips us with various virtues that we can use to win in life.

Are you the air hockey fun? This is a perfect game which will keep boredom a distance away. Air hockey needs two players whom they will play against each other using the air hockey table without any friction. A puck is also required to meet all the game requirements. If you want to be the most competitive air
hockey player you have to do daily and all-time practice. Create a small space at your home where you will be able to install an air hockey table which will be easily accessible to you.

What is an air hockey table?

The two air hockey players with a puck won’t manage to enjoy the game without air hockey table which can be found in Air hockey table is an air hockey game equipment which has a smooth surface with no friction. Air hockey table has the surrounding rail on its surface which prevent the paddles and the pucks from escaping the table. There are slots on either end of the air hockey table that act as goals.

The types of air hockey table available are:

-Tabletop air hockey table.

-Standalone air hockey table.

-Multi-game table.

They come in various sizes to fit the space you have in your apartment.

Some features of the air hockey table.

Air hockey table will have a mechanical mechanism that creates a cushion of air below the table surface. the cushion air pass through small and tiny holes. They act to reduce friction and help the air hockey
players do their game with speed.

Some of the air hockey tables are made with plastics to save the maintenance and manufacturing cost.

The pucks that are used to play the air hockey game, some of them have the battery and fan which help in generation of the cushion. Air hockey pucks are made from Lexan polycarbonate resin.

The air hockey table is durable and whenever it is bought to assemble it is easy. Buyers guide is also available and thus you don’t need to worry about how you will start your game.

The cost of the air hockey table.

There are many brands and sizes of air hockey tables in this section we are going to discuss the prices. The cost of any air hockey table is very important. It will guide you to know the design you will buy, brand and also the model. You can only spend below $100 to get a perfect table for the game. To get the best, luxurious one and of high standards, you will spend up to $1000. Your budget will guide you to get what you are looking for since there is an air hockey table for everyone. The important thing is that you should not sacrifice the quality of the table over money. Get the best choice of the table at whichever cost. It will help you play your game for years without any inconveniences.

How to score in the air hockey game.

There are two methods of scoring in this game. The models available in the market currently allow electronic and manual slider. The cheaper hockey tables have sliding scorers that you will be sliding on the table surface as you track the points. With more high and air hockey tables, electronic scoreboards keep track of the score.

Source of power for air hockey table.

The table with electric scoreboards or blower needs the power source. For some of the air hockey table you will require batteries and for others, the electrical outlet will be necessary.

Isaiah Berlin, 1992

Berlin, Isaiah [Sir] (6 June 1909 – 5 November 1997)

Berlin, a major philosopher and historian of ideas at Oxford University in England, shared with Plato the distinction of having been an intellectual who never wrote a major book.

Early Years

Born in Riga, Latvia, he was the son of a timber merchant and landowner. His grandfather on his mother’s side was a Hasidic rabbi of the Lubavitch tradition. His family moved to St. Petersburg, witnessing two Russian revolutions in 1917, then immigrated in 1921 to London, where it had business interests.

As a boy, Shaya (as he was known then) had some religious education but found the Talmud a “very, very boring book,” adding, “I could never figure out why I should care why the bull gored the cow.” He continued his religious education in London, where as a youth he had his bar mitzvah. “I never had it in me to do a great masterpiece on some big subject,” he said. But he wrote on a variety of subjects.


He translated Turgenev and wrote Karl Marx (1939), Historical Inevitability (1954), The Age of Enlightenment (1956), Four Essays on Literature (1969), and The Crooked Timber of Humanity (1990). The latter work’s title comes from Kant’s “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.” What this meant to Berlin was that mankind must be wary of dogmatism, of utopianism, or of any system of thinking which pursues the ideal. Berlin argued not for utopianism but for pluralism, for the notion

  • that there are many different ends that men may seek and still be fully rational, fully men, capable of understanding each other and sympathizing and deriving light from each other, as we derive it from reading Plato or the novels of medieval Japan – worlds, outlooks, very remote from your own.

His 1959 essay, “Two Concepts of Liberty,” made a distinction between negative liberty (that which the individual must be allowed to enjoy without state interference) and positive liberty (that which the state permits by imposing regulations that, by necessity, limit some freedoms in the name of greater liberty for all.

In it he wrote,

  • One belief, more than any other, is responsible for the slaughter of individuals on the altar of the great historical ideas – justice or progress or happiness of future generations. . . or emancipation of a nation or race or class. . .this is the belief that somewhere. . .there is a final solution.

He argued, Marilyn Berger noted in The New York Times (7 November 1997), that both kinds of liberty were required for a just society.

Hedgehogs and Foxes

Berlin once made a distinction between two types of mind: the hedgehog, which knows one big thing; and the fox, which knows lots of little ones. Thinkers who fixate on one big idea – Plato, Dante, Pascal, Proust, Dostoevsky, Marx, Hegel, or for that matter someone who would investigate a subject such as humanism for decades – are hedgehogs.

However, those who have many little ideas, such as Aristotle, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzac, Joyce, and Turgenev are foxes. Tolstoy, he felt, was a fox who wanted to be a hedgehog.

Most of Berlin’s friends, wrote Michael Ignatieff (The New Yorker, 28 September 1998), saw him as an arch-fox – quick-witted, darting from subject to subject, eluding pursuit. Yet he also longed to be a hedgehog—to know one thing, to feel one thing more truly than anyone else. He had reached what he recognized was a critical stage: either he would go on to develop a serious intellectual engagement of his own or he would decline into being what he feared most – a “chatterbox.”

Building: Letters 1960 – 1975

John Banville, reviewing Berlin’s Building: Letters 19690-1975 (edited by Henry Hardy and Mark Pottle (2013), wrote:

The stoutest defenders of the status quo will inevitably be those whom it rewards most richly. In the period covered by Building: Letters 1960–1975, the third of four projected volumes of his correspondence, Isaiah Berlin achieved lavish success in his life and in his career. He was happily, indeed blissfully, married to a well-to-do woman and living with her and her sons in some style in her fine house outside Oxford; he had attained worldwide fame as a historian of ideas whose essays were read with admiration and envy both inside and outside academe; he was the confidant of presidents and statesmen, with an entrée to many a corridor of power on both sides of the Atlantic; and to cap it all, in these years he created a new graduate college at Oxford, securing the funding for it and overseeing its at times troubled development. He knew his place to be a high one, and despite his innate modesty he enjoyed himself hugely up there.
His letters in this volume, as ever discursive, zestful, bubbling with gossip and intrigue, sound a subtly new note. His sense of gaiety, his love of occasion, his appetite for friendship and conversation, fed into what seems at times a blinkered kind of sunny optimism, a belief that surely all this should and would be preserved against the encroaching barbarisms of the age. As the historian David Caute has drily remarked, “Berlin more frequently expressed aversion to violence that established ‘a new order on the ruins of the old’ than to the historically more common violence that re-established the old order on the ruins of the new.”
Certainly the period from 1960 to 1975 was among the most barbarous the world has experienced. These were the years of assassination—of John F. and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, among others—and of some particularly nasty wars, notably in Vietnam, Algeria, Congo, and the Middle East. There were also a number of nuclear standoffs, particularly over Cuba, that very nearly resulted in catastrophe.
Through all this IB, as from here on we shall designate him, sailed with apparent calm, though always with a lively interest, like a phlegmatic lone yachtsman navigating his leak-proof vessel over tempestuous wastes of water. Or so it would seem from his letters; it would be well to keep in mind, however, that letter-writing is a performative act, and IB was a bravura performer. He was never less than engagé yet in private maintained an attitude of amused skepticism. The world may have seemed to be hurtling toward one end, that of general self-destruction, but he was unshakable in his commitment to his version of liberalism and what is called value-pluralism, “the conception that there are many different ends that men may seek and still be fully rational, fully men, capable of understanding each other and sympathizing and deriving light from each other.”
Yet all was not bonhomie and soft sunlight. “I am,” he wrote to Mary McCarthy in 1964, when he was aged fifty-five, “in a state of excessive indignation about everything, from which I deduce old age and hardening of the arteries.” He could be fearsome when he felt he or his profession had been slighted. In 1963 he wrote to the British intellectual and Labour parliamentarian Richard Crossman about a newspaper review in which Crossman had returned to “your old bone…on which you gnaw and gnaw—the fiddling dons of Oxford, dreary and craven pedants engaged in their petty and destructive tasks while worlds are crashing and great problems are crying out for solution.” Responding to the charge, IB reminds Crossman of the German “political professors who thundered away and supplied plenty of ideology for 1871 and 1914,” and reminds him of Friedrich Meinecke’s Die deutsche Katastrophe of 1946, “one of the noblest tracts of our times” and “a sufficient answer to those who want professors to plug political programmes and ideologies, however sincere and eloquent.”
A similar though angrier broadside was delivered to the writer and journalist Ved Mehta, who in 1961 had written an article on contemporary Oxford philosophers for The New Yorker; IB’s brief riposte gleams with icy dismissiveness. “The New Yorker is a satirical magazine, and I assume from the start that a satire was intended and not an accurate representation of the truth. In any case, only a serious student of philosophy could attempt to do that.” Yet he was never pompous, and frequently expressed amazement that people should hold him in high regard. His work, he said, was like money: since he had made it himself it must be counterfeit. And like many writers he credited the judgments of his harshest critics, “whereas those who think well of one’s work are poor sad half-wits, whom one has taken in all too easily.”
[[However, his humorous delectation of the foibles of others sometimes verges on schadenfreude, if not outright cruelty. He revered Stravinsky as a composer—“he was the greatest genius I ever knew well”—yet in private liked to laugh at the old man’s complacent sense of himself and his unchallengeable position at the pinnacle of musical art. In Israel and writing to his wife in anticipation of a potentially controversial visit to Jerusalem by Stravinsky, known for having made anti-Semitic statements, IB wonders if he will accompany the official welcoming party to the airport. “I think may be not. If I have nothing to do…may be it will be comical: the arrival, the honour etc. Mrs S. is suffering from a nervous tic in the face: I shall enjoy that, I fear. [Robert] Craft [Stravinsky’s assistant], the tic, the whole thing may be funny.”
There are instances, however, when he ascends to thrilling heights of moral disdain. Here he is in 1964 contemplating with dismay the rise of the Republican Party presidential nominee Barry Goldwater:
I wonder…whether Goldwater followers are not simply the old 20 percent—quite enough too—who were isolationists during the war, did not want to go to Europe but to Japan towards the end of it, supported McCarthy and McCarran [both paranoid anti-Communists], and are in fact the old combination of Southern “Bourbons,” Texas industrialists, Catholic bigots, Fascists, lunatics, political neurotics, embittered ex-Communists, unsuccessful power-seekers of all kinds, as well as rich men and reactionaries, in whom America has never been poor…. This is the optimistic view.
In these years too IB was much concerned with the State, and state, of Israel, commenting on and frequently entering into that troubled nation’s endless and intermittently violent arguments with its neighbors and with itself.1 He had been a friend and enthusiastic admirer of Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist leader and first president of Israel, and was ever ready to leap to the defense of a country that he saw, surely rightly, as the last best hope of a historically persecuted people. He was too honest and too much of a realist to imagine that Israel could do no wrong, but he left no one in any doubt as to the staunchness of his conviction that Israel, in whatever form or within whatever borders, must survive.
The first letter in this volume, addressed to Teddy Kollek—an official in the office of the Israeli prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and later to be a famously successful, liberal mayor of Jerusalem—was written after the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina by Israeli agents. In its agitated tone and tortured syntax the letter displays IB’s distress at his belief—correct, as it turned out—that Israel would try Eichmann and execute him for his part in the Holocaust, thereby losing a matchless opportunity to refrain from exacting vengeance even for such heinous crimes and expel Eichmann instead: “Nothing in the world wd make so deep an impression on the world, I am quite sure, as an act by a small and deeply wronged people which refuses to plunge the dagger to the hilt.”
From an early age IB had been acquainted with extremism, social upheaval, and internecine violence. During the February Revolution in Petrograd in 1917, he was out for a stroll with his governess one day when a group of men swept past dragging a tsarist policeman with them. In the account of IB’s biographer, Michael Ignatieff:
All the seven-year-old had time to see was a man with a white face twisting and turning as he was borne away. The child could not know where they were taking him, but even then it seemed clear that he would not escape with his life. However brief the scene, it made an indelible impression.
Although it would be easy to exaggerate the effects of this “indelible impression,” there is no doubt that throughout his life, both as citizen and philosopher, IB was keenly aware of the potential destructiveness of ideas, “ideas about what relations between men have been, are, might be and should be,” which in time become transformed into visions of a supreme good, and therefore a supreme goal, in the minds of leaders, “above all of the prophets with armies at their backs.” Hence we find him, in the pages of Building and everywhere else, ready always to promote and defend a liberal and pluralist agenda. A thumbnail sketch of his philosophical position is given in a letter to a younger political theorist, Bernard Crick, who had taken issue publicly with IB’s most celebrated work, Two Concepts of Liberty:
Freedom (or liberty) is the condition for activity. I think that what you call freedom (a free spirit; a liberal outlook; liberal-handed) I prefer to call power. You want to say, “How free they are! How mobile, active they are, how richly their gifts are realised and scattered,” whereas I wish to say, “How free! How untrammelled! How uninhibited—whithersoever they wish to move, they can; nothing can stop them!” Freedom for you is the living of the life; for me it’s its condition [italics added].
IB was anything but a reclusive or unworldly scholar, and was impatient with many aspects of the academic life—the constant jostling for position, the endless squabbles over protocol, the irritation and resentment so many dons feel at the presence of mere students—and found academic work at times well-nigh intolerable. “It is very depressing to be a professor even here,” he wrote from Oxford to a colleague in 1960, and to Richard Crossman three years later he displayed the egalitarian spirit that would inspire him to set about founding a new college to meet the needs of graduate students rather than cater to the comforts and promote the self-esteem of the teaching staff:
There is an Anglo-Saxon academic world quite different from the Latin one, where all the professors are judged by their intellectual eminence or political views, but never, never in terms of relations with students, which hardly exist; they are so remote, impersonal and grand.
A goodly portion of the correspondence in Building is concerned, as might be expected, with the establishment of Wolfson College. This was a highly significant undertaking in IB’s professional life, but inevitably the tribulations entailed in fund-raising and the dreariness of having to deal with architects and builders, etc., make for less than fascinating reading. However, the success he achieved with the project, and in particular his skill in persuading McGeorge Bundy, president of the Ford Foundation, and the wealthy businessman Sir Isaac Wolfson to provide financial backing does shed a light on the perhaps surprising wheeling-and-dealing side of his character, a side even he had been unaware of hitherto.
Another aspect of the man, and another and harmonious new note sounded in these letters, is his late-flowering uxoriousness. Aline Berlin, née de Gunzbourg, was the daughter of a Paris-based, Russian-born banker and his French-Jewish wife. Aline had been married twice before, and had three sons by her previous husbands. She and IB had met in America during the war, and became close when they found themselves together aboard the Queen Mary en route to New York in 1949. At that time Aline was still married to the nuclear physicist Hans Halban. She and IB fell in love, but IB had to endure a long wait before, in 1955, Aline’s marriage collapsed and she agreed to marry him. The momentous occasion is marked by a laconic entry in IB’s diary on February 18, 1955:
Midday. Very cold.
Proposed. 11.50.
Accepted. 11.55.


With Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, he held that “freedom consists in being at home.” Everyone, he concluded, needed to belong to a group. He was convinced, as was German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, of man’s basic need to be part of a particular human community with its own traditions, language, art, and imagination to shape his emotional and physical development.

However, he noted, “I have no idea how one stops one group, one race, from hating another. The hatred between human groups has never been cured, except by time.” In the 18th Century, he noted, one could believe that nations could live peacefully side by side. “Perhaps in the 18th century you could believe that,” he added, noting that the excesses of nationalism made such a view unrealistic.

Marilyn Berger, commenting about Berlin at the time of his death, said Berlin had been known for his view that the utopian notion of one big answer that is knowable and self-contained must always be fallacious because it does not take into account the cultural pluralism and conflicting values that are part of humanity’s “crooked timber.” Kant had written that “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made,” a view which inspired the title of Berlin’s 1990 work, The Crooked Timber of Humanity. The 1997 publication of his Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and Their History underlined his deserved reputation for being a great essayist, conversationalist (Robert Darnton has compared him with Diderot), and rhetorician. The seventh and last volume in a series of his essays, the work rejected the common belief that utopians are simply rebels against social laws and historical development but, rather, are people who think they have discovered those very laws whereas none such actually exist. In the 19th century, he noted, thinkers

  • believed that human society grew in a discoverable direction, governed by laws; that the borderline which divided science from utopia . . . was discoverable by reason and observation and could be plotted less or more precisely; that, in short, there was a clock, its movement followed discoverable rules and it could not be put back.

However, the utopians’ faith that science can plot society’s future has led to still further problems, he asserts. By placing their faith in the laws of social and historical development, utopians “place excessive faith in laws and methods derived from alien fields, mostly from the natural sciences.” This, he cites, is evidence of a lack of the sense of reality. Critics generally hailed the octogenarian’s work as evidencing his ability to make philosophy come alive. Berlin was a fervent Zionist, “not because the Lord offered us the Holy Land as some people, religious Jews, believe,” he said, adding,

  • My reason for being a Zionist has nothing to do with preserving Jewish culture, Jewish values, wonderful things done by Jews. But the price is too high, the martyrdom too long. And if I were asked, “Do you want to preserve this culture at all costs?” I’m not sure that I would say yes, because you can’t condemn people to permanent persecution. Of course assimilation might be a quite good thing, but it doesn’t work. Never has worked, never will. There isn’t a Jew in the world known to me who somewhere inside him does not have a tiny drop of uneasiness vis-à-vis them, the majority among whom they live. They may be very friendly, they may be entirely happy, but one has to behave particularly well, because if they don’t behave well they won’t like us.

Another aspect of the man, and another and harmonious new note sounded in these letters, is his late-flowering uxoriousness. Aline Berlin, née de Gunzbourg, was the daughter of a Paris-based, Russian-born banker and his French-Jewish wife. Aline had been married twice before, and had three sons by her previous husbands. She and IB had met in America during the war, and became close when they found themselves together aboard the Queen Mary en route to New York in 1949. At that time Aline was still married to the nuclear physicist Hans Halban. She and IB fell in love, but IB had to endure a long wait before, in 1955, Aline’s marriage collapsed and she agreed to marry him. The momentous occasion is marked by a laconic entry in IB’s diary on February 18, 1955:

Midday. Very cold.
Proposed. 11.50.

Accepted. 11.55. The marriage was a tremendous success, and transformed IB’s life. Building is the first volume in which Aline Berlin has allowed a selection of her husband’s letters to her to be published. It was a wise decision. The letters are utterly charming, touching, and funny, and make of IB an even more endearing figure than he appeared in the previous two volumes. In the autumn of 1962, seven years into the marriage, IB spent a term at Harvard as the Ford Visiting Research Professor. As is usual in such cases he was lonely and at something of a loss. Having gone on a shopping expedition to furnish his rooms at Lowell House with household necessaries he writes to Aline, with comic lugubriousness:

I sit surrounded by my electric gadgets: radio, telly, shoe-shiner, teapot, coffee pot, immersion plugs etc. & am subject to homesickness…. Funny. I used to be where my body was geographically. This division of body & feeling, physical process & real personality is queer. How much more can one love? But he loved America, too, and had many friends there, including Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Joseph Alsop, Robert Silvers, and Charles “Chip” Bohlen. During the war he had been posted to the British embassy in Washington, and often declared that Washington was his favorite city, a new Rome on the Potomac, although he recognized how petty the capital could be, and how overseriously it took itself. His position, if not at the center of power then at least deeply embedded in the fringes of it, is indicated by a letter to Aline on October 17, 1962, the day after he had attended a White House dinner and met President Kennedy and his wife. He liked them both, with reservations. Of Jacqueline Kennedy he wrote: “She is very nice indeed…. Easy, sincere & amusing,” while JFK—“amused & delighted young tycoon…. Not my style at all”—seemed “rather tense.”

I don’t think [JFK] was as impressed with me as our friends hoped he wd be. The whole idea of my début was appalling. He gave me up fairly early, I thought: & with relief turned me over to his wife saying “you go sit with Jackie. She wants to bring you out, or somep’n.” That the president should have been tense that evening is not surprising, since October 16 was the day on which the Cuban missile crisis began. Perhaps it was JFK’s coolness, allied to his own cheerful skepticism, that persuaded IB the situation was not as perilous as practically everyone else knew it was. On the night of October 22, after the president had gone on television to inform the world that it was teetering on the brink of nuclear devastation, we find IB writing to Aline, “My God, but it is dull here,” and going on to chat about their future plans together and to offer some ruefully amused gossip about his evening spent among the anointed ones at New Camelot.

America in general, and Washington in particular, were a source of fascination and attraction to IB throughout his life, and this westward leaning, along with his unwavering opposition to the Soviet Union and all it represented, led him to be considered an intellectual cold warrior. Certainly he knew where his allegiance lay, and had nothing but contempt for lazy-minded fellow travelers—his disgust with much of the student “revolution” of the late 1960s provokes a number of the strongest passages in these letters,2 passages that some readers will take to show him to have been just another old right-wing reactionary. However, looking back on the “Sixties,” who in his or her heart will deny that overall he was right?

Revolting students were not the only cause of outrage for IB in the 1960s and 1970s. The noirest of his bêtes noires was the Polish historian Isaac Deutscher—“the horrible Deutscher,” as he called him—a Marxist specializing in Soviet history and society, and author of a three-volume life of Trotsky. Although the two men met on only a few occasions, IB’s animosity toward him was unrelenting. In a letter to the teacher and translator Elena Levin, Harry Levin’s wife, in 1954, in which he bitterly disparaged a paper Deutscher had given on Trotsky, IB, speaking of Trotsky but also doubtless of Deutscher’s account of him, declared: “I do hate conscientious, coherent, high-minded doctrinaire torturers of human beings into neat and tidy shapes….”

Matters were made much worse when in 1955 Deutscher, in an article in the influential London Observer newspaper, wrote a highly critical review of IB’s essay Historical Inevitability, which provoked IB to fire off a controlled but furious letter of protest to the newspaper’s editor, David Astor. “I assumed that Deutscher’s article would be unfriendly,” IB wrote, “since the whole gist of my thesis was directly aimed at his own cherished beliefs…. The review duly appeared and I must confess was nastier than I had conceived possible.”

The next episode in the unappetizing saga came in 1963 when Deutscher applied for the chair in Soviet studies at the University of Sussex. The college authorities were inclined to hire him. J.S. Fulton, vice-chancellor of the university, wrote to IB, who was on the Academic Advisory Board at Sussex, asking for his views. IB replied in no uncertain terms:

The candidate of whom you speak [Deutscher’s name is not mentioned anywhere in the letter] is the only man whose presence in the same academic community as myself I should find morally intolerable. How much of this is founded on objective judgement of his academic and intellectual activities, and how much on personal feeling, I find it difficult to say…. But I think there is a limit below which lack of scruple must not go in the case of academic teachers…. The man in question is the only one about whom I have any such feeling—there is literally no one [else], so far as I know, to whom I would wish to urge such objections. His objection to the appointment was based on his conviction that Deutscher, because of his views of Soviet history and ideology, could not be trusted to teach Soviet studies in an unbiased fashion. In this he was probably justified. It hardly needs saying that after IB’s letter, Deutscher did not get the job. Six years later, after Deutscher’s death, an article appeared in a British left-wing gossip magazine accusing IB of having destroyed Deutscher’s chances at Sussex. IB considered suing the magazine, but thought better of it. However, he did write to Deutscher’s widow Tamara, denying the truth of the article. The anguished tone of the letter, and the convoluted language in which the denial is couched, testify to IB’s horror at being discovered to have condemned Deutscher behind the scenes. The affair is best summed up by Michael Ignatieff:

The difficulty lay in supposing that Deutscher could be counted on to teach non-Marxist concepts with the fairness requisite in a university teacher. This was a fair enough application of the standards of liberal tolerance in a university, but Isaiah muddied the waters considerably by claiming that he himself remained a man of the left. In reality, as the Deutscher affair shows, he was not of that political family at all.3 This was not the first time IB had maneuvered in secret to prevent an appointment he disapproved of—in 1958 he had written a letter aimed at preventing the composer Benjamin Britten from being granted the post of musical director at Covent Garden. The letter does not make for pleasant reading. IB’s objections are openly based on the fact that Britten was homosexual: “Not to put too fine a point upon it, opera is an essentially heterosexual art, and those who do not feel affinity with this tend to employ feeble voices, effeminate producers etc….”4 This does not mean that IB was homophobic—some of his closest friends were homosexual, including Maurice Bowra, Stephen Spender, and Joe Alsop—but the intervention leaves a bad taste nevertheless. Here and in his denial of his part in excluding Deutscher, IB was certainly treading in the mire.

Yet it would be unjust, indeed wrong, to end on such a sour note. IB was one of the great affirmers of our time, a man to be admired not only for his intellectual achievements but for his loyalty, his humor, his modesty, his delight in the world and the people in it. He was neither a temporizer nor a meliorist, yet all his thought was directed toward a humane estimation of life and its possibilities. Here he is, writing in 1969 to his friend Dorothea Head:

Nothing is less popular today than to say that there is no millennium, that values collide, that there is no final solution, that one can only gain one value at the expense of another, that whatever one chooses entails the sacrifice of something else—or that it is at any rate often so. This is regarded as either false or cynical or both, but the opposite belief is what, it seems to me, has cost us so much frightful suffering and blood in the past. It was certainly unpopular—it still is—to say such things, but IB never faltered in his determination that they should be said, and said again. Building is a wonderful edifice in his honor, meticulously, indeed lovingly, edited and annotated by Henry Hardy, IB’s hardiest champion, and his colleague Mark Pottle, along with a phalanx of researchers, consultants, and transcribers. That such a book could be assembled, and thereafter handsomely produced by a commercial publisher, is a little light of hope in a dark cultural time.


A serious opera buff and a sought-after conversationalist, he was a friend of Freud, Nehru, Stravinsky, Boris Pasternak, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, Chaim Weizmann, Virginia Woolf, Edmund Wilson, Aldous Huxley, Bertrand Russell, and Felix Frankfurter.

Ignatieff has detailed Berlin’s affection for a famous beauty, Akhmatova, who was twenty years older than he and twice married. When Patricia Douglas, a married woman with children, came to take care of him on an occasion when he was suffering from a bad cold, he surprised her in a raw display of feeling by pulling her into bed with him.

Also, he loved Aline Halban, who was married at the time to an Oxford colleague, and also with children. When she left her husband, she and Berlin were married in 1956 at Hampstead Synagogue, a sign that he may have been closer to Judaism than some of his contemporaries suspected.

Mark Lilla on Berlin

On 25 April 2013, Mark Lilla started an article in The New York Review of Books about “Berlin Against the Current:

To one who thinks philosophically, no story is a matter of indifference, even if it were the natural history of the apes.

—H. M. G. Koster
It was an anecdote Berlin liked to tell.
In 1944, while working at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., Isaiah Berlin was called back to London on short notice, and it happened that the only plane available to take him was a loud, uncomfortable military bomber. Because the cabin wasn’t pressurized he had to wear an oxygen mask that kept him from speaking. And there were no lights, either, so he couldn’t read. It was a long flight. He joked afterward, “one was therefore reduced to a most terrible thing—to having to think.”
While airborne, the story went, he had a small epiphany. In the 1930s he had taught philosophy at Oxford, happily, with his likeminded friends Stuart Hampshire, J.L. Austin, and A.J. Ayer. Logical positivism had just come into its own in Britain and Wittgenstein was already developing ideas about language that would challenge it. Something seemed to be happening. But as the war dragged on Berlin wondered whether this style of philosophy was really for him. History had intruded into his life a second time (the first was when he witnessed the Russian Revolution as a young boy in Petrogad) and he had just spent several years in the United States writing influential reports to the British government about the American war effort.

The Last Essay

The posthumous publication of his last essay, “My Intellectual Path” (The New York Review of Books, 14 May 1998), discussed Oxford philosophy before the Second World War. He told of his first interest in philosophy and in the work of G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell when an undergraduate at Oxford in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The “fashionable view” of verificationism

  • was that the meaning of a proposition was the way in which it was verifiable—that if there was no way whatever of verifying what was being said, it was not a statement capable of truth or falsehood, not factual, and therefore either meaningless or a case of some other use of language, as seen in commands or expressions of desire, of in imaginative literature, or in other forms of expression which did not lay claim to empirical truth.

He never became “a true disciple,” however, always believing

  • that statements that could be true or false or plausible or dubious or interesting, while indeed they did relate to the world as empirically conceived (and I have never conceived of the world in any other way, from then to the present day), were nevertheless not necessarily capable of being verified by some simple knockdown criterion, as the Vienna School and their logical positivist followers asserted. From the beginning I felt that general propositions were not verifiable in that way. Statements whether in ordinary use or in the natural sciences (which were the ideal of the Vienna School), could be perfectly meaningful without being strictly verifiable. If I said “All swans are white,” I would never know if I knew this about all the swans there were, or whether the number of swans might not be infinite; a black swan no doubt refuted this generalization, but its positive verification in the full sense seemed to me unattainable; nevertheless it would be absurd to say that it had no meaning.

His last essay also discusses monism (about which he always felt skeptical); Giambattista Vico (the first philosopher, a Catholic, to have conceived the idea of cultures); J. G. Herder (the father of cultural nationalism (whom he found not to be a relativist and who held that mankind “was not one but many”); romanticism (although Marx and others held that perfection is a goal, “I reject this huge metaphysical interpretation of human life in toto – I remain an empiricist, and know only what I am able to experience, or think I could experience, and do not begin to believe in supra-individual entities – nevertheless I own that it made some impact on me.”); pluralism (“I came to the conclusion that there is a plurality of ideals, as there is a plurality of cultures and of temperaments,” a view he held is not relativistic.); freedom; determinism ; and the pursuit of the ideal. The essay concludes,

To go back to the Encyclopedists and the Marxists and all the other movements the purpose of which is the perfect life: it seems as if the doctrine that all kinds of monstrous cruelties must be permitted, because without these the ideal state of affairs cannot be attained – all the justifications of broken eggs for the sake of the ultimate omelette, all the brutalities, sacrifices, brainwashing, all those revolutions, everything that has made this century perhaps the most appalling of any since the days of old, at any rate in the West – all this is for nothing, for the perfect universe is not merely unattainable but inconceivable, and everything done to bring it about is founded on an enormous intellectual fallacy.

The essay takes on added significance because Berlin had written his views at the request of Ouyang Kang, professor of philosophy at Wuhan University in China, in order that they could be translated and included in a volume about contemporary Anglo-American philosophy, which hitherto had been largely unavailable in China.

Roots of Romanticism

A posthumous work, The Roots of Romanticism (1999), suggests that because they could not compete with the French in social, political, and philosophical matters, the Germans developed the Romantic movement, “the greatest transformation of Western consciousness, certainly in our time.” To illustrate, he described the thinking of Fichte, Goethe, Hamann, Herder, and Schiller.

Last Years

Berlin was President of the British Academy from 1974 to 1978. He became a Humanist Laureate in the Council of Secular Humanism’s International Academy of Humanism.

“I don’t mind death,” he said of his own death. “I’m not afraid of it. I’m afraid of dying for it could be painful. But I find death a nuisance. I object to it. I’d rather it didn’t happen. . . . I’m terribly curious. I’d like to live forever.”

(An astute commentary about Berlin was written by Alan Ryan in The New York Review of Books, 17 December 1998. Similarly, Aileen Kelly wrote a profound review of Arie M. Dubnov’s 2013 book Isaiah Berlin: The Journey of a Jewish Liberal in The New York Review of Books (20 June 2013), one that ends, “There is a saying credited variously to Mark Twain, Abraham Maslow, and Jewish folklore: To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.’ Dubnov’s book suggests irresistibly the hybrid proverb: ‘Beware hedgehogs bearing hammers.’ ”

{CE; The Economist, 27 September 1997; FUS; Robert Darnton, The New York Review of Books, 26 June 1997; Marilyn Berger, The New York Times, 7 November 1997}