The Search for Perfection: Atlantic Dimensions

Bernard Bailyn

in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 151, 2006 Lectures

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780197264249
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734045 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Search for Perfection: Atlantic Dimensions

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This lecture discusses a ‘recipe for bloodshed’ in terms of the popular derivatives of Isaiah Berlin's doctrines, instead of the formal discourses he discussed. It presents a sketch of the fate of perfectionist aspirations in the open amplitudes of the Western Hemisphere. The lecture presents a review of several perfectionist projects of Atlantic dimensions, concluding that the horrors Berlin deplored were derived not from the search for perfection, but from the uses and misuses of power.

Keywords: recipe for bloodshed; Isaiah Berlin; formal discourses; perfectionist aspirations; perfectionist projects; Atlantic dimensions; uses and misuses of power

Chapter.  10051 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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