But to manipulate men, to propel them toward goals which you-the social reformers-see, but they may not, is to deny their human essence, to treat them as objects without wills of their own, and therefore to degrade them.

— Isaiah Berlin

The most gorgeous Isaiah Berlin quotes that will activate your desire to change

Injustice, poverty, slavery, ignorance - these may be cured by reform or revolution. But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible.


Those who have ever valued liberty for its own sake believed that to be free to choose, and not to be chosen for, is an inalienable ingredient in what makes human beings human.


The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds.


Liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or human happiness or a quiet conscience.


True knowledge is knowledge of why things are as they are, and not merely what they are.


Liberty and equality, spontaneity and security, happiness and knowledge, mercy and justice - all these are ultimate human values, sought for themselves alone; yet when they are incompatible, they cannot all be attained, choices must be made, sometimes tragic losses accepted in the pursuit of some preferred ultimate end.


Both liberty and equality are among the primary goals pursued by human beings throughout many centuries; but total liberty for wolves is death to the lambs, total liberty of the powerful, the gifted, is not compatible with the rights to a decent existence of the weak and the less gifted.


Only barbarians are not curious about where they come from, how they came to be where they are, where they appear to be going, whether they wish to go there, and if so, why, and if not, why not.


The intellectual power, honesty, lucidity, courage, and disinterested love of the truth of the most gifted thinkers of the eighteenth century remain to this day without parallel. Their age is one of the best and most hopeful episodes in the life of mankind.


Out of the crooked timber of humanity, nothing completely straight was ever made


All forms of tampering with human beings, getting at them, shaping them against their will to your own pattern, all thought control and conditioning is, therefore, a denial of that in men which makes them men and their values ultimate.


Few new truths have ever won their way against the resistance of established ideas save by being overstated.


About Isaiah Berlin

Quotes 39 sayings
Nationality Russian
Profession Philosopher
Birthday October 16

There is no a prior reason for supposing that the truth, when it is discovered, will necessarily prove interesting.


The history of society is the history of the inventive labors that man alter man, alter his desires, habits, outlook, relationships both to other men and to physical nature, with which man is in perpetual physical and technological metabolism.


One belief, more than any other, is responsible for the slaughter of individuals on the alter 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.


All central beliefs on human matters spring from a personal predicament.


Utopias have their value -- nothing so wonderfully expands the imaginative horizons of human potentialities -- but as guides to conduct they can prove literally fatal.


We are doomed to choose and every choice may entail irreparable loss.


The most passionate, consistent, extreme and implacable enemy of the Enlightenment and ... all forms of rationalism ... was Johann Georg Hamann. His influence, direct and indirect, upon the romantic revolt against universalism and scientific method ... was considerable and perhaps crucial.


The fundamental sense of freedom is freedom from chains, from imprisonment, from enslavement by others. The rest is extension of this sense, or else metaphor.


Philosophers are adults who persist in asking childish questions.


When one is engaged in a desperate defense of one's world and its values, nothing can be given away, any breach in the walls might be fatal, every point must be defended to the death.


The very desire for guarantees that our values are eternal and secure in some objective heaven is perhaps only a craving for the certainties of childhood or the absolute values of our primitive past.


No perfect solution is, not merely in practice, but in principle, possible in human affairs, and any determined attempt to produce it is likely to lead to suffering, disillusionment and failure.


The case against the notion of historical objectivity is like the case against international law, or international morality; that it does not exist.


The notion of the perfect whole, the ultimate solution in which all good things coexist, seems to me not merely unobtainable--that is a truism--but conceptually incoherent. ......Some among the great goods cannot live together. That is a conceptual truth. We are doomed to choose, and every choice may entail an irreparable loss.


Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.


Life may be seen through many windows, none of them necessarily clear or opaque, less or more distorting than any of the others.


Science cannot destroy the consciousness of freedom, without which there is no morality and no art, but it can refute it.


Conformities are called for much more eagerly today than yesterday.

.. skeptics, liberals, individuals with a taste for private life and their own inner standards of behavior, are objects of fear and derision and targets of persecution for either side... in the great ideological wars of our time.


When a man speaks of the need for realism one may be sure that this is always the prelude to some bloody deed.


The underlying assumption that human nature is basically the same at all times, everywhere, and obeys eternal laws beyond human control, is a conception that only a handful of bold thinkers have dared to question.


Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep.


The desire not to be impinged upon, to be left to oneself, has been the markof high civilisation both on the part of individuals and communities.


Few things have done more harm than the belief on the part of individuals or groups (or tribes or states or nations or churches) that he or she or they are in sole possession of the truth: especially about how to live, what to be and do - and that those who differ from them are not merely mistaken, but wicked or mad: and need restraining or suppressing.


Lenin could listen so intently that he exhausted the speaker.


One must look at what impiety hates, what puts it in a rage, what it attacks always, everywhere, and with fury - that will be the truth.


The trouble with academics and commentators is that they care more about whether ideas are interesting than whether they are true.