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49 - Seeking the Middle Way

An Exploration of Culture, Mind, and the Brain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 September 2022

Saul Kassin
Affiliation:
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
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Summary

In one of his brilliant essays, Isaiah Berlin distinguished between two types of intellectuals, the hedgehog and the fox (Berlin, 1953). Some scholars have a deep commitment to a particular framework or viewpoint. If they are good enough, they perform a penetrating analysis by using this framework. They are hedgehogs. Some prominent hedgehogs, according to Berlin, include Plato, Pascal, and Nietzsche. But if you are a hedgehog and not as good as they are, then you may easily become a victim of your commitment. Your perspective could be either too narrow, too rigid, or worse, both. Some other scholars are more diverse in orientation, entertaining a variety of ideas and phenomena. They are foxes. Some of the most brilliant scholars of this sort include Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Goethe. But if you are a fox and mediocre, your work is dispersed without any clear focus or thread. Berlin’s perceptive analysis makes me realize that I have always tried to hit the middle, aspiring to be both while avoiding being fully wedded to either. I may not be completely successful, but I am trying.

Type
Chapter
Information
Pillars of Social Psychology
Stories and Retrospectives
, pp. 421 - 431
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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References

Suggested Reading

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  • Seeking the Middle Way
  • Edited by Saul Kassin, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
  • Book: Pillars of Social Psychology
  • Online publication: 29 September 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009214315.049
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  • Seeking the Middle Way
  • Edited by Saul Kassin, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
  • Book: Pillars of Social Psychology
  • Online publication: 29 September 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009214315.049
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Seeking the Middle Way
  • Edited by Saul Kassin, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
  • Book: Pillars of Social Psychology
  • Online publication: 29 September 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009214315.049
Available formats
×