Are you a Hedgehog or a Fox?

by Daniel Mackie March 07, 2013

hedgehog drawing

This painting continues with my theme of animals with their natural habitat depicted within them.

In 1953 philosopher Isaiah Berlin published an essay called,”The Hedgehog and the Fox” in it he expands on the simple notion attributed to the ancient Greek poet Archilochus, “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”.

He divides writers and thinkers two camps, those who view the world with one defining idea,(Hedgehog) Plato and Dostoyevsky for example, and those that believe the world can not be distilled down to one idea.(fox) Aristotle and Shakespeare for example.

Archilochus ancient quote has filtered down through the years, I don’t know if it influenced the story of the fox and the cat, but, “the many things” aspect of the story marry up with Archilochus quote. A cat and a fox are having a chat about how many tricks they have up their sleeves. The fox boasts that he has many. The cat says he only has one. When hunters arrive with their dogs, the cat quickly climbs a tree, but the fox can’t decide which trick to employ and is caught by the hounds.

The hedgehog is often depicted as a wise creature, The story, The Hedgehog and the Hare by the brothers Grim illustrates this. The hedgehog outsmart’s the hare with is brains and runs the hare off his legs! read about it here

In This story from Romania, the hedgehog is represented as wise, but an introverted grump!

During creation the earth god had made no room for the oceans, rivers and lakes. God did not know what to do, so he sent the bee to the hedgehog, the wisest of all animals, to ask advice. The hedgehog refused, however, The Bee was smart, he knew that the hedgehog was in the habit of talking to itself. The bee crept back up to it and heard it murmuring, “God does not know that he must create valleys and mountains in order to make room for the waters.” The bee hurried back to God with this advice, enabling him to complete his creation. To reward the hedgehog, God gives it a coat made of needles.

View Animal cards and prints at Daniel’s shop


Daniel Mackie
Daniel Mackie


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