[PDF/EBOOK] The Hedgehog and the Fox An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History by Isaiah Berlin

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  • The Hedgehog and the Fox An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History
  • Isaiah Berlin
  • English
  • 06 August 2017
  • 9781566630191

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characters The Hedgehog and the Fox An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History ✓ eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB Mental distinction between those people foxes who are fascinated by the infinite varie. Thanks to Ted s review I finally read this essay 82 pages in length yesterdayI m definitely not on a philosophical level as such but this work is brilliant The analysis of Leo Tolstoy and particularly his War and Peace is sublimeI must confess that there are some thinkers mentioned that I had never heard of but then that s life

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characters The Hedgehog and the Fox An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History ✓ eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB The masterly essay on Tolstoy's view of history in which Sir Isaiah underlines a funda. Long ago the Greek poet Archilochus famously wrote the fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing In 1952 Isaiah Berlin borrowed Archilochus parable to distinguish between two very different ways of looking at history The hedgehog interprets history according to a unifying principle Whereas the fox is skeptical that such a principle exists and learns a craftiness that embraces variety subtlety and unresolved multiplicity Examples of the former include Plato Dostoyevsky and Dante Alighieri The latter include Shakespeare Montaigne Goethe and Aristotle Leo Tolstoy defies such easy categorization According to Berlin that is because Tolstoy is by nature a fox Indeed Berlin considers him one of the most talented foxes ever However Tolstoy s nature as a fox is belied by his belief that there must be a unifying principle He is therefore a fox who longs to be a hedgehog Berlin s essay THE FOX AND THE HEDGEHOG is uite persuasive and fun I have decided to read WAR AND PEACE and have placed it in my ueue coming up shortly As for reading Berlin I am uncommitted Evidently he hated writing and THE FOX AND THE HEDGEHOG was put into book form by others working from the transcript of a largely extemporaneous lecture given by Berlin at Oxford University where he taught for many decades He must have been a wonderful teacher His spoken prose was said to be a thing to behold Judging from this essay which is only 80 pages not including extensive footnotes added by others and barely edited from the original he was indeed a uniue talent I would love to know if there exist recordings of his spoken word It seems to me that would be a superior way to engage with him rather than reading of his books

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characters The Hedgehog and the Fox An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History ✓ eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB Ty of things and those hedgehogs who relate everything to a central all embracing syst. This then is the great illusion which Tolstoy sets himself to expose that individuals can by the use of their own resources understand and control the course of eventsTolstoy was not by nature a visionary he saw the manifold objects and situations on earth in their full multiplicityhis genius lay in the perception of specific properties the almost inexpressible individual uality in virtue of which the given object is uniuely different from all others Nevertheless he longed for a universal explanatory principle that is the perception of resemblances or common origins or single purpose or unity in the apparent variety of the mutually exclusive bits and pieces which composed the furniture of the worldhe continued to kill his rivals rickety constructions with cold contemptthe irritated awareness at the back of his mind that no final solution was ever in principle to be foundHaving just finished reading War and Peace turning to Isaiah Berlin s study of Tolstoy s philosophy of history seemed appropriate Any reflection on a theory of history is timely it seems as the world looks back 100 years to the beginning of WWI hostilities and watches the conflagrations erupting in very old hot spotsOn finishing War and Peace I was left with the sense that many critics have that Tolstoy had a bee in his bonnet that marred the power of his novel with his incessant essays on the myth of the great man and the deterministic theory of history any event is the result of an infinite number of other events beyond the ability of individual to capture and comprehend He comes very close to saying there is no free will but fears that to take that step would make life unlivable according to Berlin Yet palpable on every page is evidence that individuals Pierre Natasha Andrei Kutasov Dolokhov do make conscious political moral and practical decisions every day Berlin calls this the superior value of personal experience the thoughts knowledge poetry music love friendship hates passions of which real life is compounded Berlin says that Tolstoy was a genius and that there must be a way to reconcile these two aspects of the novel He finds it in Archilochus s line about the fox and the hedgehog The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing Dante and Dostoyevsky says Berlin are examples of hedgehog writers while Joyce and Shakespeare are examples of foxes But Tolstoy continues Berlin was a fox who desperately wanted to be a hedgehogTolstoy rejected Hegel and others because they could not develop scientific laws of history that could predict future events Why select some causes and reject others Or theorize as if you knew all the potential causes He believed that it is not the external political events that are the most important but the inner everyday and spiritual events which are fundamental to shaping the context in which we perceive and act Thus the battle is really won by the spirit of the army or the Russian people not the orders of a generalUltimately Berlin links Tolstoy and Joseph de Maistre asserting that Tolstoy absorbed the core of Maistre s skepticism about the ability of kings and generals to affect history but not his rigid insistence on a return to uasi medieval allegiance to Church and king Both men s power lay in their devastating ability to destroy grand theories of human development and political science Tolstoy s agony Berlin claims resulted from his inability to build as strong a case for a grand unifying theory that he could believe inBerlin begins his essay with a beautifully concise and crystal clear explication of Tolstoy s theory of history as set forth in War and Peace if nothing else this book can be used as a crib for that examination uestion He then proceeds to describe Tolstoy s influences Rousseau Stendhal etc and the degree to which he drew on or reacted to them for his own approach The book ends with Berlin attributing to Tolstoy a view that the wisdom that General Kutasov and Pierre embody is to become aware of and move in concert with the context and flow of our world that superficial facts and actions reside in This is not a mystical belief Berlin asserts but a state of mind that he sensed existed but could not himself attain One is left to ponder whether the lasting appeal of War and Peace results not only from Tolstoy s penetrating character studies enmeshed in the panorama of family and national conflicts but also from the conflict between the two aspects of Tolstoy s own character his powerful grasp of facts and his awareness of a wisdom he could suspect existed but could not feel himself I had not read any Berlin before I will read He is brilliant at walking the reader through an argument with clear elegant prose and thoughtful well researched insights