O Intermitente<br> (So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, good-bye)

O Intermitente
(So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, good-bye)

terça-feira, setembro 07, 2004

O Ouriço e a Raposa

Um post do MacGuffin remete-me para o ensaio "The Hedgehog and the Fox" de Isaiah Berlin.

There is a line among the fragments of the Greek poet Archilochus which says: 'The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing'. Scholars have differed about the correct interpretation of these dark words, which may mean no more than that the fox, for all his cunning, is defeated by the hedgehog's one defense. But, taken figuratively, the words can be made to yield a sense in which they mark one of the deepest differences which divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general. For there exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel-a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance-and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some psychological or physiological cause, related by no moral or aesthetic principle; these last lead lives, perform acts, and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal, their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects for what they are in themselves, without consciously or unconsciously, seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all-embracing, sometimes self-contradictory and incomplete, at times fanatical, unitary inner vision. The first kind of intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the hedgehogs, the second to the foxes; and without insisting on a rigid classification, we may, without too much fear of contradiction, say that, in this sense, Dante belongs to the first category, Shakespeare to the second; Plato, Lucretius, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Proust are, in varying degrees, hedgehogs; Herodotus, Aristotle, Montaigne, Erasmus, Molière, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzak, Joyce are foxes.


The hypothesis I wish to offer is that Tolstoy was by nature a fox, but believed in being a hedgehog; that his gifts and achievement are one thing, and his beliefs, and consequently his interpretation of his own achievement, another; and that consequently his ideals have led him, and those whom his genius for persuasion has taken in, into a systematic misinterpretation of what he and others were doing or should be doing.

Um excerto da crítica do Brotherjudd.com

If, like me, you finally forced yourself to read War and Peace and were simply mystified by several of the historic and battle scenes, this essay is a godsend. Though many critics, and would would assume almost all readers, have tended to just ignore these sections of the book, Berlin examines them in light of Tolstoy's philosophy of history and makes a compelling case that Tolstoy intended the action of these scenes to be confusing. As Berlin uses the fox and hedgehog analogy, a hedgehog is an author who has a unified vision which he follows in his writing ("...a single, universal, organising principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance...") , a fox has no central vision nor organizing principle; his writings are varied, even contradictory. Berlin argues that Tolstoy was a fox who wanted to be a hedgehog, that he longed for a central idea to organize around, but so distrusted the capacity of human reason to discern such an idea, that he ended up knocking down what he saw as faulty ideas, without ever settling on one of his own.

According to Berlin, in War and Peace, Tolstoy used the chaotic swirl of events to dispel a "great illusion" : "that individuals can, by the use of their own resources, understand and control the course of events." Or as he puts it later, Tolstoy perceived a "central tragedy" of human life :

...if only men would learn how little the cleverest and most gifted among them can control, how
little they can know of all the multitude of factors the orderly movement of which is the history of
the world...

This idea is strikingly similar to the argument that F. A. Hayek made almost a century later in his great book The Road to Serfdom, though Hayek made it in opposition to centralized government planning. Tolstoy's earlier development of this theme makes him a pivotal figure in the critique of reason and a much more significant figure than I'd ever realized in the history of conservative thought.

Este ensaio foi publicado no livros "Russian Thinkers" e "The Proper Study of Mankind".Em Portugal foi incluido em "A Apoteose da Vontade Romântica" (Bizâncio).
posted by Miguel Noronha 9:21 da manhã

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"A society that does not recognize that each individual has values of his own which he is entitled to follow can have no respect for the dignity of the individual and cannot really know freedom."

mail: migueln@gmail.com