The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy’s View of History - Second Edition, Edition 2

Princeton University Press
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"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." This ancient Greek aphorism, preserved in a fragment from the poet Archilochus, describes the central thesis of Isaiah Berlin's masterly essay on Leo Tolstoy and the philosophy of history, the subject of the epilogue to War and Peace. Although there have been many interpretations of the adage, Berlin uses it to mark a fundamental distinction between human beings who are fascinated by the infinite variety of things and those who relate everything to a central, all-embracing system. Applied to Tolstoy, the saying illuminates a paradox that helps explain his philosophy of history: Tolstoy was a fox, but believed in being a hedgehog. One of Berlin's most celebrated works, this extraordinary essay offers profound insights about Tolstoy, historical understanding, and human psychology.

This new edition features a revised text that supplants all previous versions, English translations of the many passages in foreign languages, a new foreword in which Berlin biographer Michael Ignatieff explains the enduring appeal of Berlin's essay, and a new appendix that provides rich context, including excerpts from reviews and Berlin's letters, as well as a startling new interpretation of Archilochus's epigram.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jun 2, 2013
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Pages
144
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ISBN
9781400846634
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Historiography
History / Social History
Literary Criticism / European / Eastern
Literary Criticism / General
Philosophy / History & Surveys / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Since its original publication, Expert Political Judgment by New York Times bestselling author Philip Tetlock has established itself as a contemporary classic in the literature on evaluating expert opinion.

Tetlock first discusses arguments about whether the world is too complex for people to find the tools to understand political phenomena, let alone predict the future. He evaluates predictions from experts in different fields, comparing them to predictions by well-informed laity or those based on simple extrapolation from current trends. He goes on to analyze which styles of thinking are more successful in forecasting. Classifying thinking styles using Isaiah Berlin's prototypes of the fox and the hedgehog, Tetlock contends that the fox--the thinker who knows many little things, draws from an eclectic array of traditions, and is better able to improvise in response to changing events--is more successful in predicting the future than the hedgehog, who knows one big thing, toils devotedly within one tradition, and imposes formulaic solutions on ill-defined problems. He notes a perversely inverse relationship between the best scientific indicators of good judgement and the qualities that the media most prizes in pundits--the single-minded determination required to prevail in ideological combat.


Clearly written and impeccably researched, the book fills a huge void in the literature on evaluating expert opinion. It will appeal across many academic disciplines as well as to corporations seeking to develop standards for judging expert decision-making. Now with a new preface in which Tetlock discusses the latest research in the field, the book explores what constitutes good judgment in predicting future events and looks at why experts are often wrong in their forecasts.

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