This book has been published to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Erasmus Prize and underline the importance of the four laureates who received the Prize in the jubileum year. Raymon Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Leszek Kolakowski and Marguerite Y ourcenarcan be considered four outstanding representatives of the unique European intellectual tradition that is characterised by its critical sense and respect for freedom of the individual. It is for this reason that they have been awarded the Erasmus Prize. The essays included in this book are devoted to these four personalities, a Frenchman strongly influenced by the German philosophical tradition, a Russian who has settled in Oxford, a philosopher banned from his native Poland, and a Frenchwoman of Belgian origin living in America. Each has demonstrated in his or her own way that the ideas on and ideals of European culture and tradition are oflasting value. Each recognizes that human values can only flourish in a pluralistic society, a society in which 'Ie juste milieu' must constantly be sought. The temptation to succumb to monistic, dogmatic and intolerant tendencies that continue to threaten our civilisation not only from the outside but also from within, must be continually resisted. The dignity of man reaches full maturity first and foremost in a society in which man is the moulder and maker of himself and freedom of the individual stands central.