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Why the Future Belongs to Polymaths

The World is Getting Integrated

The current age is abundant with knowledge like no other before, and this is powerful and distracting at the same time. It is a good idea to develop your senses.

Due to the technology breakthroughs of recent times, more and more people are poised to be at the intersection of different and varied disciplines. The world is getting integrated, and those of us who can absorb this unification will thrive.

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Why the Future Belongs to Polymaths

Why the Future Belongs to Polymaths

https://medium.com/@ztrana/the-expert-generalist-why-the-future-belongs-to-polymaths-46b0e9edc7bc

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Key Ideas

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 specialized in not one, but several domains, and handled a problem with a diverse inventory of mental knowledge and understanding.

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.

The World is Getting Integrated

The current age is abundant with knowledge like no other before, and this is powerful and distracting at the same time. It is a good idea to develop your senses.

Due to the technology breakthroughs of recent times, more and more people are poised to be at the intersection of different and varied disciplines. The world is getting integrated, and those of us who can absorb this unification will thrive.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The modern polymath

... is someone who becomes competent in at least 3 diverse domains and integrates them into a top 1-percent skill set.

In another words, they bring the best of what humanity has discov...

Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo Da Vinci

"Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else."

Famous polymaths

Polymaths have existed forever (they are often the ones who’ve advanced Western civilization more than any others )  but they’ve been called different things throughout history:

Philosopher king: Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Archimedes.

Renaissance person: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei.

Gentleman scholar: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams.

Polymath: Marie Curie, Isaac Newton, Theodore Roosevelt.

Modern polymath: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg.

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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.”

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The real master has no tools

He/She has a endless power to improvise with what is to hand.

The more fields of knowledge he/she covers, the greater his/her resources for improvisation.

Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville

"Nothing tends to materialise man, and to deprive his work of the faintest trace of mind, more than extreme division of labour."

Invention fights specialization

To come up with new ideas, you need to know things outside your field.

The further afield your knowledge extends, the greater potential you have for innovation.

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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.

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.

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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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. 
Elon Musk

"Well, I do think there’s a good framework for thinking. It is physics. You know, the sort of first principles ..."

Elon Musk
First principle vs. analog thinking
  • First principles thinking: actively questioning every assumption you think you know about a given problem or scenario  and then creating new knowledge and solutions from scratch. 
  • Reasoning by analogy: building knowledge and solving problems based on prior assumptions, beliefs and widely held ‘best practices’ approved by majority of people.
Elon Musk's 3 steps Principle Thinking
  1. Identify and define your current assumptions;
  2. Breakdown the problem into its fundamental principles;
  3. Create new solutions from scratch.

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The Art of Decision-making:
  1. Get 1% smarter every day;
  2. Focus on things that don’t change or change very slowly over t...
Decision-making cascades 

... through everything you do. That's the power of compounding. If you get 1% better at understanding how the world works, how human behavior works, how economic systems function, and understanding your own brain — that 1% improvement impacts everything you do. 

Study things that never change

The best kind of knowledge is not ephemeral junk , that will be useless in a few years, but the core pillars of human knowledge and the major academic disciplines. That knowledge changes very slowly over time  and it’s a core foundation that you can build upon and grow from. 

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Cross pollination

In a business or creative setting, a monoculture has its own risks, as we habitually turn to the same sources, people and habits for new ideas. Over time, these ideas can take on a similar, predict...

Make a date with yourself

Go on a weekly "artist date", where you feed your inspiration by looking at something artistically nourishing and stimulating.

For example, If you are a writer, you might go for a walk in an arboretum on Monday mornings.

Read about creative lives

Biographies and how-to guides from other fields can be wonderful sources of inspiration.

What might you gain from reading about and emulating the morning routine of a favorite athlete?

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The Renaissance Man
The Renaissance Man

Leonardo Da Vinci had a seemingly endless assemblage of concepts and ideas, all of which were unrelated, and scattered.

The 'Renaissance Man' followed his curiosity and not his spec...

Knowing How To Utilize Experts

Leonardo Da Vinci didn't do everything on his own, making good use of experts and other people who could do the work more efficiently.

He acknowledged that he didn't know everything and utilized the knowledge and experience of other great minds.

Don't Focus on One Thing

Leonardo Da Vinci explored a wide range of subjects.

A mind interested in many things unlocks certain creative aspects and forms connections that otherwise would remain dormant.

First-principles thinking

Breaking down complicated problems into basic elements and then reassemble them from the ground up.

It’s one of the best ways to learn to think for yourself, unlock your creative poten...

A first principle

...is a foundational proposition or assumption that stands alone. We cannot deduce first principles from any other proposition or assumption.

Reasoning by first principles removes the impurity of assumptions and conventions. What remains is the essentials. 

Cutting through the dogma

If we never learn to take something apart, test the assumptions, and reconstruct it, we end up trapped in what other people tell us.

We remain trapped in the way things have always been done. When the environment changes, we just continue as if things were the same.

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