What do we mean by "hedgehog," anyway?
We refer in our blog title to Isaiah Berlin, a 20th Century English philosopher who is famous for an essay he wrote called "The Hedgehog and The Fox." Berlin based the essay on the writings of the Greek poet Archilochus, who said: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."
Here's how Books and Writers summarizes the Berlin essay:
So our interest in hedgehogs has nothing to do with their status as adorable furry small creatures. We'd just as soon be wolverines. We're talking about a state of mind here. Ronald Reagan was a hedgehog. He focused on a few big things: Win the Cold War, reduce the size of government, reduce taxes. Of course he had many other goals as well, but he kept his eye on the proverbial ball. Jimmy Carter, by contrast, was more of a fox; so was Michael Dukakis. Both were detail-oriented to a fault.
In one of his most famous essays, "The Hedgehog and The Fox" (1953), Berlin focused on the tension between monist and pluralist visions of the world and
history, and drew the line between different authors and philosophers. As the Greek poet Archilochus said: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." The Hedgehog needs only one principle, that directs its life. . . . The Fox, pluralist, travels many roads, according to the idea that there can be different, equally valid but mutually incompatible concepts of how to live. . . .
Turning to our most recent election, John Kerry was clearly a fox and George W. Bush is the living, breathing definition of a hedgehog. But this is not an ideological definition. Marx was a hedgehog; so were Darwin, Einstein, and Adam Smith.
If you want to read the entire Berlin essay (which is a classic in political philsophy) you can find it here. (Warning: This is a subscription service, so you won't get far before they hit you up for money.)
After we started our blog we learned of the book "Good to Great," by Jim Collins. He gives a terrific summary of what he calls "The Hedgehog Concept" here.
Also, if you want to know a few biological facts about hedgehogs, there is a nice summary here. Again, they are interesting little mammals but that's not why we named this blog after them.
So now you know why we call ourselves "aspiring hedgehogs."
But this is what the Hedgehog of this blog looks like: