“Are there Limits to Liberalism? Review of John Gray, Isaiah Berlin”

Walzer, Michael. “Are there Limits to Liberalism? Review of John Gray, Isaiah BerlinNew York Times Review of Books October 1995.    


“In his famous essay on Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Isaiah Berlin divides writers about human affairs—philosophers, historians, social theorists, novelists, and poets—into two categories that he names, engagingly, hedgehogs and foxes, making his own a line from the Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Archilochus sounds sympathetic to the hedgehogs, who are committed, Berlin writes, to “a single central vision, one system…, a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance.” Berlin himself, however, runs with the foxes, who “pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory,” whose thought moves “on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects for what they are in themselves, without… seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all-embracing…unitary inner vision.””

NY Books