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[The following excerpt from "Notes on Prejudice" is reproduced at www.szasz.com by permission of The Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust 2001: © The Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust 2001]

From "Notes on Prejudice," The New York Review of Books, October 18, 2001

"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 & do—& that those who differ from them are not merely mistaken, but wicked or mad: & need restraining or suppressing. It is a terrible and dangerous arrogance to believe that you alone are right: have a magical eye which sees the truth: & that others cannot be right if they disagree."--Sir Isaiah Berlin, note to a friend, 1981.

Click here to see Szasz on Berlin (1987)

[The following letter is reproduced at www.szasz.com by permission of The Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust 2001: © The Isaiah Berlin Literary Trust 2003]

TEL OXFORD (0865) 61005

14 June 1988

Dear Mr. Herman,

Thank you for your letter of 29 May, which I was glad
to receive. Naturally, I cannot tell you anything about
Freud, Szasz or Szasz's view of the non-existence of mental
disease: for I know nothing of these things - I have no view
of the merits or de-merits of psycho-analysis, and have not
read Peter Gay's biography. So you will not expect me to
react to that part of your letter.

As for Erich Kahler, it is, of course, flattering to be
quoted at such length by so distinguished a man, but I must
admit that in the conundrum, still unsolved, between determinism
and freedom, Kahler's comment on my views does not seem to me
to advance the matter in any degree. I may or may not be
correct in my view: but Kahler's notion of vitality, genius,
the unpredictability of its expression, while I full accept
these notions, does nothing in my view to illuminate the nature
of this notorious dilemma. It seems to me to be eloquent,
true, sympathetic - but has no philosophical content. If you
compare it, for example, with William James, who, no less than
Kahler, believed in vitality, genius, etc., you will see that
his discussion of the problem of freedom and determinism is
a very acute, fascinating, philosophically profound, and to me
convincing discussion of this issue. Kahler's genius I do not
think lay in the direction of what is commonly called philosophy,
rather more of general reflections, without much argument, about
the human condition. But thank you for taking the trouble to
send all this to me.

Yours sincerely,


Sir Isaiah Berlin

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