The hedgehog and the fox – two styles of science

Perhaps Archilochus simply meant that the hedgehog’s single defense defeats the fox’s many tricks. Yet, the hedgehog and the fox were turned into metaphors for two types of thinkers and writers by the historian philosopher Isaiah Berlin. All the thinking and actions of the hedgehog revolve around a single vision and are structured by a single set of principles that the hedgehog holds to be universal. Foxes lack such central vision and universal principles; they seize many experiences and pursuit many ends, always holding concrete particulars to be paramount. Each way of thinking has its strength and weakness; neither is superior to the other. Berlin cited Plato, Dante, and Dostoevsky as hedgehogs; Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Pushkin foxes. Tolstoy was diagnosed as a fox who imagined himself a hedgehog.
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