Ernest Gellner
An Intellectual Biography
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Paperback with free ebook
$29.95$20.9630% off
416 pages / February 2012 / 9781844677580
June 2014 / 9781844678457
Hardback with free ebook
400 pages / July 2010 / 9781844676026

Not in stock

A remarkable account of the life and thoughts of the philosopher and linguist
Ernest Gellner was a multilingual polymath who set the agenda in the study of nationalism and the sociology of Islam for an entire generation of academics and students. This definitive biography follows his trajectory from his early years in Prague, Paris and England to international success as a philosopher and public intellectual. Known both for his highly integrated philosophy of modernity and for combining a respect for nationalism with an appreciation for science, Gellner was passionate in his defence of reason against every for of relativism.


“The cumulative effect is monumental—and a monument does seem overdue.”

“Gellner has been brought back to life—alongside his combative ideas and his maverick approach to intellectual combat—in a sympathetic but by no means reverential biography by his former pupil John A. Hall.”

“Few books have more successfully combined the study of personal life and intellectual development in the turbulent setting of the twentieth century.”

“John A. Hall concludes his account of Ernest Gellner by observing that his outlook on the world was austere. “But therein lies its attraction,” he goes on. “Not much real comfort for our woes is on offer; the consolations peddled in the market are indeed worthless. What Gellner offered was something more mature and demanding: cold intellectual honesty.” Brief personal impressions are rarely conclusive, especially when recalled after many years; but that Gellner was an exceptionally honest thinker is beyond reasonable doubt.”


“The theory of nationalism itself was Gellner’s life. John A. Hall’s admirable biography helps us to see how this is so, by providing essential biographical information and locating Gellner’s arguments within those of his interlocutors, friendly and otherwise...Hall, more than learned enough to follow Gellner’s very broad references, is also patient with his categorical opinions.”

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