July 2, 2010

Multa novit vulpes, verum echinus unum magnum...

[This is something I posted back in 2003. You could plug it into 2010 without much difficulty. The title is Erasmus's latin for "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." ]

What thou lov'st well remains, the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee ...
    — Ezra Pound

Orrin Judd recently wrote...

..It is often thought that ideology makes people inflexible, unable to face new situations they've not thought about before. In fact, given how seldom a situation truly is new, a well thought through set of ideas will serve in any circumstance that arises and so may give such folk--Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and George W. Bush are the paramount recent examples--a suppleness that those whose minds function in a more ad hoc way will lack. The latter--men like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton--may be paralyzed into inaction, because they have to analyze things afresh and then worry over whether they've come up with the right decision. It is the difference that Isaiah Berlin wrote about in his famous essay, The Hedgehog and the Fox.

Conservatives tend to be people who find the past appealing, thrilling, alive. You might think that would make them uncomfortable dealing with the future, but just the opposite is true. The things you love you will absorb, they will soak in, they will become part of you without the need for laborious study. And if you absorb, for example, things like the story of Gideon, you may be more ready for life's crises than the theorist who has read a hundred books...And if you absorb histories of Sam Houston or Lord Fairfax or Abigail Adams or Epaminondas, you will not be alone when the crisis comes...

I suspect our country has flourished partly because, at times of testing, hedgehogs often appear. (And if you find the accusations of stupidity heaped on Bush by the foxes to be a bit much, go back and read what they said about Lincoln. Or Jackson, or Truman...)

Posted by John Weidner at July 2, 2010 7:53 AM
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