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Isaiah Berlin and the Enlightenment$
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Laurence Brockliss and Ritchie Robertson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783930

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198783930.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 September 2021

Berlin and Montesquieu

Berlin and Montesquieu

(p.79) 5 Berlin and Montesquieu
Isaiah Berlin and the Enlightenment

Karen O’Brien

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores Berlin’s rhetorical and intellectual treatment of Montesquieu in a lecture first published in Against the Current. The essay undertakes a polemical rehabilitation of Montesquieu as a figure at the heart of the Enlightenment who nevertheless expounded, in a highly original way, a cultural pluralism more typical of his Counter-Enlightenment successors. Within the wider context of Berlin’s thought, Montesquieu represents a revealing case study of the liberal and tolerant potentialities of Enlightenment thinking. But Berlin’s reading of this key figure in eighteenth-century constitutionalism also demonstrates his own general inattention to the legal and procedural aspects of Enlightenment thought.

Keywords:   Montesquieu, Cassirer, Meinecke, freedom, justice

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