|Birth Day:||June 6, 1909|
|Death Date:||Nov 5, 1997 (age 88)|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Isaiah Berlin died on Nov 5, 1997 (age 88).
He attended St. Paul's School and Corpus Christi College.
Born on 6 June 1909, Berlin was the only surviving child of a wealthy Jewish family, the son of Mendel Berlin, a timber trader (and a direct descendant of Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Hasidism), and his wife Marie, née Volshonok. His family owned a timber company, one of the largest in the Baltics, as well as forests in Russia, from where the timber was floated down the Daugava river to its sawmills in Riga. As his father, who was the head of the Riga Association of Timber Merchants, worked for the company in its dealings with Western companies, he was fluent not only in Yiddish, Russian and German, but also French and English. His Russian-speaking mother, Marie (Musya) Volshonok, was also fluent in Yiddish and Latvian. Isaiah Berlin spent his first six years in Riga, and later lived in Andreapol (a small timber town near Pskov, effectively owned by the family business) and Petrograd (now St Petersburg). In Petrograd, the family lived first on Vasilevsky Island and then on Angliiskii Prospekt on the mainland. On Angliiskii Prospekt, they shared their building with other tenants, including Rimsky-Korsakov's daughter, an assistant Minister of Finnish affairs and Princess Emeretinsky. With the onset of the October Revolution of 1917, the fortunes of the building's tenants were rapidly reversed, with both the Princess Emeretinsky and Rimsky-Korsakov's daughter soon being made to stoke the building's stoves and sweep the yards. Berlin witnessed the February and October Revolutions both from his apartment windows and from walks in the city with his governess, where he recalled the crowds of protesters marching on the Winter Palace Square.
Feeling increasingly oppressed by life under Bolshevik rule where the family was identified as bourgeoisie, the family left Petrograd, on 5 October 1920, for Riga, but encounters with anti-Semitism and difficulties with the Latvian authorities convinced them to leave, and they moved to Britain in early 1921 (Mendel in January, Isaiah and Marie at the beginning of February), when Berlin was eleven. In London, the family first stayed in Surbiton where he was sent to Arundel House for preparatory school, then within the year they bought a house in Kensington, and six years later in Hampstead.
After leaving St Paul's, Berlin applied to Balliol College, Oxford, but was denied admission after a chaotic interview. Berlin decided to apply again, only to a different college: Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Berlin was admitted and commenced his literae humaniores degree. He graduated in 1928, taking first-class honours in his final examinations and winning the John Locke Prize for his performance in the philosophy papers, in which he outscored A. J. Ayer. He subsequently took another degree at Oxford in philosophy, politics and economics, again taking first-class honours after less than a year on the course. He was appointed a tutor in philosophy at New College, Oxford, and soon afterwards was elected to a prize fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, the first unconverted Jew to achieve this fellowship at All Souls.
While still a student, he befriended Ayer (with whom he was to share a lifelong amicable rivalry), Stuart Hampshire, Richard Wollheim, Maurice Bowra, Stephen Spender, Inez Pearn, J. L. Austin and Nicolas Nabokov. In 1940, he presented a philosophical paper on other minds to a meeting attended by Ludwig Wittgenstein at Cambridge University. Wittgenstein rejected the argument of his paper in discussion but praised Berlin for his intellectual honesty and integrity. Berlin was to remain at Oxford for the rest of his life, apart from a period working for British Information Services (BIS) in New York from 1940 to 1942 and for the British embassies in Washington, DC, and Moscow from then until 1946. Before crossing the Atlantic in 1940, Berlin took rest in Portugal for a few days. He stayed in Estoril, at the Hotel Palácio, between 19 and 24 October 1940. Prior to this service, however, Berlin was barred from participation in the British war effort as a result of his being born in Latvia, and because his left arm had been damaged at birth. In April 1943 he wrote a confidential analysis of members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the Foreign Office; he described Senator Arthur Capper from Kansas as a solid, stolid, 78-year-old reactionary from the corn belt, who is the very voice of Mid-Western "grass root" isolationism. For his services, he was appointed a CBE in the 1946 New Year Honours. Meetings with Anna Akhmatova in Leningrad in November 1945 and January 1946 had a powerful effect on both of them, and serious repercussions for Akhmatova (who immortalised the meetings in her poetry).
In 1956 Berlin married Aline Halban, née de Gunzbourg (1915–2014) who was the former wife of an Oxford colleague and a former winner of the ladies' golf championship of France. She was from an exiled half Russian-aristocratic and half ennobled-Jewish banking and petroleum family (her mother was Yvonne Deutsch de la Meurthe, granddaughter of Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe) based in Paris.
Berlin is popularly known for his essay "Two Concepts of Liberty", delivered in 1958 as his inaugural lecture as Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford. The essay, with its analytical approach to the definition of political concepts, reintroduced the methods of analytic philosophy to the study of political philosophy. Spurred by his background in philosophy of language, Berlin argued for a nuanced and subtle understanding of our political terminology, where what was superficially understood as a single concept could mask a plurality of different uses and therefore meanings. Berlin argued that these multiple and differing concepts, otherwise masked by rhetorical conflations, showed the plurality and incompatibility of human values, and the need for us to distinguish and trade off analytically between, rather than conflate, them if we are to avoid disguising underlying value-conflicts. The two concepts are 'negative freedom', or freedom from interference, which Berlin derived from the British tradition, and 'positive freedom', or freedom as self-mastery, which asks not what we are free from, but what we are free to do. Berlin points out that these two different conceptions of liberty can clash with each other.
He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1959. He was instrumental in the founding, in 1966, of a new graduate college at Oxford University: Wolfson College. The college was founded to be a centre of academic excellence which, unlike many other colleges at Oxford, would also be based on a strong egalitarian and democratic ethos. Berlin was a member of the Founding Council of the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University. As later revealed, when he was asked to evaluate the academic credentials of Isaac Deutscher, Isaiah Berlin argued against a promotion, because of the profoundly pro-communist militancy of the candidate.
Berlin died in Oxford on 5 November 1997, aged 88. He is buried there in Wolvercote Cemetery. On his death, the obituarist of The Independent wrote: "he was a man of formidable intellectual power with a rare gift for understanding a wide range of human motives, hopes and fears, and a prodigiously energetic capacity for enjoyment – of life, of people in all their variety, of their ideas and idiosyncrasies, of literature, of music, of art". The same publication reported: "Isaiah Berlin was often described, especially in his old age, by means of superlatives: the world's greatest talker, the century's most inspired reader, one of the finest minds of our time. There is no doubt that he showed in more than one direction the unexpectedly large possibilities open to us at the top end of the range of human potential." The front page of The New York Times concluded: "His was an exuberant life crowded with joys – the joy of thought, the joy of music, the joy of good friends. ... The theme that runs throughout his work is his concern with liberty and the dignity of human beings .... Sir Isaiah radiated well-being."
A number of commemorative events for Isaiah Berlin are held at Oxford University, as well as scholarships given out in his name, including the Wolfson Isaiah Berlin Clarendon Scholarship, The Isaiah Berlin Visiting Professorship, and the annual Isaiah Berlin Lectures. The Berlin Quadrangle of Wolfson College, Oxford, is named after him. The Isaiah Berlin Association of Latvia was founded in 2011 to promote the ideas and values of Sir Isaiah Berlin, in particular by organising an annual Isaiah Berlin day and lectures in his memory. At the British Academy, the Isaiah Berlin lecture series has been held since 2001. Many volumes from Berlin's personal library were donated to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva and form part of the Aranne Library collection. The Isaiah Berlin Room, on the third floor of the library, is a replica of his study at the University of Oxford. There is also the Isaiah Berlin Society which takes place at his alma mater of St Paul's School. The society invites world famous academics to share their research into the answers to life's great concerns and to respond to students' questions. In the last few years they have hosted: A.C. Grayling, Brad Hooker, Jonathan Dancy, John Cottingham, Tim Crane, Arif Ahmed, Hugh Mellor and David Papineau.
Isaiah married Aline Halban in 1956 at Hampstead Synagogue.
Currently, Isaiah Berlin is 112 years, 5 months and 24 days old. Isaiah Berlin will celebrate 113th birthday on a Monday 6th of June 2022. Below we countdown to Isaiah Berlin upcoming birthday.
Sir Isaiah Berlin | British historian
Sir Isaiah Berlin, British philosopher and historian of ideas who was noted for his writings on political philosophy and the concept of liberty. He is regarded as one of the founders of the discipline now known as intellectual history. Berlin and his family emigrated from the Soviet Union to