Monday, February 26, 2007

foxes and hedgehogs

Inspired by a conversation with my cousin this weekend, instead of asking whether God is French or English, we might instead ask whether God is a hedgehog or a fox (or Tolstoy, a fox that thinks it ought to be a hedgehog).

What we were actually discussing was the danger of being a hedgehog ("The fox knows many tricks, the hedgehog only one, one good one"). I'm also reminded of this post.
The problem with being single minded is that we are not computers. We ask questions beyond the one thing we are focused on, and if we don't have very many tools/metaphors at hand, we may well make some pretty bad assumptions about other topics. Ok, I can't help adding the adage "If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." This same fact seems to pop up in multiple ways... must be something we are trying pretty hard to remind ourselves of.

I know, too much self-linking. I don't want to turn into this guy (he does have some cool stuff, but the self-linking is way out of control... try clicking on a few links.)

2 comments:

Sarah said...

I remember discussing this "foxes vs. hedgehogs" concept last semester, in my seminar course. (And it applies very well to my current Russian Lit. class!)

Looking at the article you linked, many of the authors I enjoy are hedgehogs. Is it perhaps possible to be a cautious hedgehog, somehow more aware of the shortcomings of holding to one single idea? I guess I've never equated "hedgehog" with singlemindedness, but that does make sense.

Boaz said...

Hey, thanks for the comment Sarah.
Yes, a cautious hedgehog, that's a good way to put it!