Professor David Auerbach forwarded to me this link to Isaac Deutscher’s 1955 takedown of Isaiah Berlin’s monograph Historical Inevitability. I am a connoisseur of intellectual hatchet jobs, especially those that are done with a certain style, so I read it with enjoyment. I have never been one of Berlin’s fans [and I am one of Deutscher’s fans] so I read the review with enjoyment. There was, however, a tinge of sadness, because I owe Berlin a very large debt that I was never able to repay. He was more or less directly the cause of my writing my most widely read work, In Defense of Anarchism. It happened like this.
Harper & Row asked Arthur Danto to assemble ten philosophers willing to write lengthy essays, each on a different field of philosophy, to be gathered together into an impressive volume entitled The Harper Guide to Philosophy. Arthur had rounded up nine splendid people, but Berlin had turned him down for the Political Philosophy chapter. When I joined the Columbia Philosophy Department in 1964, Arthur asked me to substitute for the unwilling Berlin, and in order to get the $500 advance for my psychoanalysis, which was just then beginning, I said yes. I wrote the essay in the summer of ’65, and five years later, after Harper had dumped the project, the essay was published by Harper Torchbooks under what is now its title. Without Berlin, I might be just another tedious Kant scholar laboring in obscurity.