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3 Brilliant Polymaths, and the Advice They Left Behind

https://bigthink.com/stephen-johnson/historys-greatest-polymaths-and-the-advice-they-left-behind

bigthink.com

3 Brilliant Polymaths, and the Advice They Left Behind
The main problem of choosing what to do in life boils down to simple math: every hour you spend on one pursuit is one less spent on another. This problem is so paralyzing that some people never even choose.

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Leonardo Da Vinci on how to be successful

  • Action: It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
  • Experiment:Experience does not ever err. It is only your judgment that errs in promising itself results which are not caused by your experiments.”
  • Goal-setting:Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.”
  • Time prioritization: “Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.”
  • Focus: As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.”

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Advice from Bertrand Russell

  • Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  • Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  • Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  • Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  • Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  • Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  • Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

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Polymaths and mastery

Polymaths manage to achieve mastery across multiple industries, arts, or fields of study. What sets them apart? The willingness and drive to learn new.

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Aristotle (382 BC–322 BC)

A polymath that made fundamental contributions to diverse fields of study, including logic, rhetoric, ethics, physics, story, poetry, government, metaphysics, geology and zoology.

Aristotle believed that we should strive to live a life of moderation, nurturing the virtues within ourselves and avoiding the vices on either extreme end.

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

H was the father of the High Renaissance style. Da Vinci made contributions to many other fields: urban planning, mathematics, botany, astronomy, invention, history, sculpting and cartography.

  • He introduced the idea of painting with aerial perspective (painting faraway objects less distinctly and with less vibrant colors).
  • He was also interested in anatomy. He used his skills as an artist to create the Vitruvian Man, a study on body proportion and an exemplar of the intersection of math and art common in the Renaissance era. 

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Bertrand Russell (1872–1970)

British Philosopher, logician, mathematician, writer, historian, political activist and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell made many contributions to the academic world, particularly within mathematical logic and analytic philosophy.

He's perhaps better known to the general public as a social critic, speaking with unflinching clarity on moral issues ranging from warfare to Jesus Christ. 

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Polymaths

Polymaths

Polymaths, geniuses with diverse skillsets and varied interests, are the source of some of history's greatest contributions.

Giants like Aristotle, Galileo, and Leonardo da Vinci were...

The Approach Of A Polymath

A polymath sees the world with a unique perspective, making connections that are not apparent to others.

Early polymaths had the advantage of a wide-open field, and went deep in their disciplines, yielding branches and sub-branches of specializations. Deep down, these different branches lead to the same trunk and roots.


Polymaths Vs Specialists

Polymaths differ from specialists, as they are on to a highway that is getting wider, and specialists are parked in a spot that is getting deeper.

Polymaths have the advantage of learning new fields of study, and forming new connections, while specialists start having a narrow vision by going deep, learning less. The learning ability of the polymath is the required skill-set of the future.

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The polymath

  • Wide interests make him truly rounded, perhaps even multi-specialised. 
  • He can add value to any conversation, either through his familiarity with a particul...

The Renaissance Mind

Cultivating a broad range of pursuits was once seen as the richest way to live, and the surest path to Great discoveries. 

Even today, in a time where the model of efficiency via hyper-specialisation has shifted our focus from ideas to output, the envelope-shifters we most look up to are polymaths. (Steve Jobs and Elon Musk spring to mind.)

Curiosity for cultivating your inner polymath

  • Start by reading magazines and blogs to get to grips with new fields;
  • Sign up to a course in something new. It will help add extra dimensions to your life experience.
  • Pick a new sport – a true polymath cultivates his physique. 
  • Give up the myth of the One True Calling and establish a polymath life working around your many interests. 

Polymaths

A Polymath is defined as one who is specialized in at least two unrelated fields or domains while having a passive interest in other domains too. They are individualists that hold a holistic view o...

Qualities Of A Polymath

When polymaths become interested in something, they don't care which domain or sphere it leads them. Some qualities of a Polymath person:

  • Above-average intelligence
  • Open-mindedness
  • Curiosity
  • Self-reliance
  • Individualism
  • A desire for personal fulfillment
  • Desire to find connections.

Waqas Ahmed

Waqas Ahmed

“The polymath not only moves between different spheres or different fields and disciplines, but seeks fundamental connections between those fields, so as to give them a unique insight into each of them.”