Hedgehogs and Foxes
What are the chances of two articles in one week both referring to Archilochus and Isiah Berlin writing on Tolstoy's philosophy invoking the hedgehog/fox idea upon the intellectual world?
From Thomas Albert Howard's review of John Lukacs Book: A Hedgehog and a Fox, Remembered Past: On History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge:
"Invoking an obscure line from the Greek poet Archilochus, Isaiah Berlin made famous
in an essay on Tolstoy’s philosophy of history the distinction between the hedgehog
and the fox. “The fox knows many things,” Archilochus wrote, “but the hedgehog
knows one big thing.” Some intellectuals are foxes, in Berlin’s interpretation, capable
of mastering “scattered or diffused [ideas], moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences.” Intellectual hedgehogs, by contrast,
“relate everything to a single central vision, one system less or more coherent,” which
derives from “a single, universal, organizing principle.” Part fox and part hedgehog,
always intellectually engaging, often unpredictable, John Lukacs bears witness to
the usefulness of Berlin’s distinction—and its limitations." Read the rest: "http://www.mmisi.org/ir/40_02/howard.pdf
This piece from last week's Art section of the New York Times:
"The philosopher Isaiah Berlin famously divided writers and thinkers into foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes are interested in many things, hedgehogs in one. Foxes move from one problem to another. Hedgehogs dig deep. Dante and Proust were hedgehogs. Molière and Pushkin were foxes. Einstein was a hedgehog. Shakespeare was a fox."
Elizabeth Murray is a hedgehog. Stirring Up a Commotion on Canvas - New York Times