O zaletach umysłowości „jeża”: wokół esejów Isaiaha Berlina

Iwona Barwicka-Tylek


The paper refers to sir Isaiah Berlin’s famous essay concerning differences between two types of human personality. Using a metaphor whose authorship is ascribed to an ancient Greek poet, Archilochus, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing,” Berlin argues that writers  and  thinkers  of  one  kind  (“hedgehogs”)  relate  everything  to  a  single,  central  vision  or principle, while those of another kind (“foxes”) expand their thinking in many autonomous directions. As this opposition became famous, Berlin himself was almost unanimously numbered among those who are claimed to “lead lives, perform acts and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal.” However, by taking a closer look at his work as a whole, we can see a different pattern of Berlin’s attitude. On the basic level of his intellectual presumptions the author of “The hedgehog and the fox” seems to have much of a hedgehog – encouraging us to share his quite coherent outlook of the history of our culture and values attached to it. This paper attempts to trace crucial features of Berlin’s “hedgehogness” and demonstrate their presence in his writings on German romanticism, concepts of freedom, value‐pluralism, and other topics.

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