Isaiah Berlin: A Value Pluralist and Humanist View of Human Nature and the Meaning of Life

Overview

Value pluralism, a philosophical perspective belonging to the humanist and liberal family, is meeting with increasing attention and support in contemporary political and moral philosophy. Its starting point is that (personal and social) human life is characterized by conflict between the various (good) values and ends that are pursued. Value pluralism takes cultural and moral diversity seriously and thereby also denies the validity of — in their view — potentially dangerous monisms that promise a perfect, ...
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Overview

Value pluralism, a philosophical perspective belonging to the humanist and liberal family, is meeting with increasing attention and support in contemporary political and moral philosophy. Its starting point is that (personal and social) human life is characterized by conflict between the various (good) values and ends that are pursued. Value pluralism takes cultural and moral diversity seriously and thereby also denies the validity of — in their view — potentially dangerous monisms that promise a perfect, tension-free human life. But does value pluralism itself not lead to another danger —that of moral relativism and questioning the meaning of human life itself? This study describes the anthropology of Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), value pluralism’s founding father. Berlin wants to protect both moral and cultural diversity against monist tendencies but at the same time struggles to avoid moral relativism. This study follows Berlin critically in this dilemma, thereby giving insight into how value pluralism differs from contemporary postmodernist and conventionalist positions.
Through this study profound insight can be gained into the anthropological assumptions behind value pluralism. This study reveals the basic assumptions in Western and liberal thought that often remain implicit and hidden, leading to much misunderstanding and conflict. Berlin’s ideas can enrich existing theories of pluralism and contribute to intercultural and interreligious dialogue. And, last but not least, Berlin’s value pluralism helps us to understand the roots of ideologically and religiously inspired violence.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789042019294
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/27/2006
  • Series: Currents of Encounter Series, #27
  • Pages: 202
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Connie Aarsbergen-Ligtvoet (1961) teaches philosophy, ethics and anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. She also organizes workshops for organizations facing with (internal) value conflicts in a value pluralist world. Her current research interests include philosophy of religion, interreligious dialogue, ethics, anthropology and politics. This study is part of a research project conducted by the research group Encounter of Religious Traditions at the Faculty of Theology at the Vrije Universiteit.
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Table of Contents

Aims and method of this study
1. Berlin’s Value Pluralism
2. Without Hope for a Perfect World
3. A Pursuer of Ends
4. The Need to Belong and to be Recognised
5. The Ability to Understand One Another
6. Endowed With a Basic Morality
7. Blinded by Wrong Concepts and Categories
8. Summaries and conclusions
Bibliography
Index
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