The GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity
by: William A. Therivel, PhD
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-GAM/DP Synopsis
-GAM Introduction
-DP Introduction
-GAM/DP Summary
-Mozart and not Salieri
-Personality Families
-Berlin's Hedgehogs & Foxes
-James Joyce - Fox
-Newton's Personality Styles
-Gifted and Talented
-GAM's Marginal Men
-GAM's Heidegger
-GAM's Nietzsche
-GAM's Nathaniel Hawthorne
-German Ethnopsychology
-Japanese Ethnopsychology
-French Ethnopsychology
-Spanish Ethnopsychology
-Chinese Ethnopsychology
-Argentine Ethnopsychology
-Byzantium's Creativity
-Venice's Creativity
-Chaucer's Griselda
-Western Medicine's Origins
-Individual Growth by Thinking GxAxMxDP
William A. Therivel
William Therivel
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-High Creativity Unmasked
-Studying Power
-Studying National Characters
-Studying National Creativity
Biography of Author

Isaiah Berlin's classification of great thinkers in hedgehogs and foxes is discussed in
Therivel's GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity.

GAM's [Berlinian] Hedgehogs and Foxes

The above is the title of chapter 9 of volume 1 of volume 4 of William A. Therivel's The GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity (G stands for genetic endowment, A for assistances of youth, M for misfortunes of youth, DP for division of power, UP for unity of power). For an introduction to the GAM part of the theory click "Introduction to GAM"; for an introduction to the DP part click on "Introduction to DP".
In this website, the reader is also offered a shortcut: The GAM/DP Synopsis and an expanded version, The GAM/DP Summary of volumes 1 through 4.

Hereafter I report the first pages of chapter 9:

     In an essay of 1953, Isaiah Berlin divided all major thinkers into hedgehogs and foxes. He did this on the basis of an observation by the poet Archilochus who said: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." For Berlin,

there exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel--a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance--and on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, in some de facto way. (1967, p.1)

     Accordingly, Berlin classified Dante, Plato, Lucretius, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoyevski, Nietzsche, Ibsen, and Proust, in varying degrees, as hedgehogs; Shakespeare, and Herodotus, Aristotle, Montaigne, Erasmus, Molière, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzac, and Joyce as foxes; and Tolstoy was by nature a fox, while believing to be a hedgehog.

     In the same vein, George Kennedy (1963), in his discussion of the nature of classical Greek rhetoric, divided all major thinkers into two groups bearing a striking similarity to the Berlinian hedgehogs and foxes. For Kennedy:

The disagreement between Plato and the sophists over rhetoric was not simply an historical contingency, but reflects a fundamental cleavage between two irreconcilable ways of viewing the world. There have always been those, especially among philosophers and religious thinkers, who have emphasized goals and absolute standards and have talked much about truth, while there have been as many others to whom these concepts seem shadowy or imaginary and who find the only certain reality in the process of life and the present moment. In general, rhetoricians and orators, with certain distinguished exceptions, have held the latter view. . . . the difference is not only that between Plato and Gorgias, but between Demosthenes and Isocrates, Virgil and Ovid, Dante and Petrarch, and perhaps Milton and Shakespeare. (1963, p. 15)

     Clearly the first group (emphasizing goals and absolutes) is composed of Berlinian hedgehogs who know one big thing and the second group (emphasizing process and the present) is composed of foxes who know many things.
     In addition, there is the correspondence of the examples: Plato and Dante are listed, by Kennedy, as absolute thinkers and by Berlin as hedgehogs; Shakespeare is listed, by Kennedy, as a thinker of process of life and the present moment and by Berlin as fox. In the same way, Aristotle is listed by Berlin as fox and by Kennedy as a defender of Greek rhetoric (pp. 18-19).

     At this point comes the natural question: what makes a person a hedgehog or a fox? Is there a genetic predisposition, or are people so at random? Can the GAM theory offer an environmental explanation? The answer to this last question is yes: there are indeed specific major misfortunes of youth (when backed by sufficient assistances and a rich G) that predispose one person to think as a hedgehog and different misfortunes that favor the thinking as a fox. This leaves aside the possibility of future discoveries pointing toward a concurrent genetic explanation, say based on the genetic roots of emotionality, activity, sociability (cf. Buss & Plomin, 1984).

     Basically, I would propose to classify the 14 GAM challenged personality families discussed in chapter 3 as follows:

Table 4
GAM's Hedgehogs and GAM's Foxes

GAM# Family Name Hedgehogs Foxes
1 Universalists all  
2 Architect most  
3 Seeker all  
4 Alchemist   most
5 Leadsman many  
6 Reformer most
7 Fisher   varies
8 Brewer   all
9 Miner   all
10 Swatter   most
11 Tanner   most
12 Radiologist most  
13 Critical Jester   most
14 Trapper   all
AA Eccentric   most

Most means, for instance, that most alchemist personalities are foxes.

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