Sunday, February 19, 2012


The Romantic Outlook

Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas, ed. Henry Hardy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991), p. 193:
The romantic outlook condemns success as such as both vulgar and immoral; for it is built, as often as not, on a betrayal of one's ideals, on a contemptible arrangement with the enemy. A correspondingly high value is placed upon defiance for its own sake, idealism, sincerity, purity of motive, resistance in the face of all odds, noble failure, which are contrasted with realism, worldly wisdom, calculation, and their rewards—popularity, success, power, happiness, peace bought at morally too high a price. This is the doctrine of heroism and martyrdom, as against that of harmony and wisdom. It is inspiring, audacious, splendid, and sinister too.

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