04 February 2007

Wherefore aren't though, Renaissance Man

Why have we forsaken the old ideal of the "Renaissance Man?" Why has our society become so intent on specialisation and expertise that we have forgotten how to be Jacks-of-All-Trades?

It is a problem within our society and our educational system that students are not encouraged to learn as much as possible about everything. Those who do pursue such goals are looked at as geeks and nerds and are reviled in schools by their peers. And this is unfortunate.

The greater the body of knowledge possessed by a single person, the greater understanding of the world that person will be able to maintain. And without this body of arcane and seemingly useless knowledge, our society rapidly becomes divided between those who know, and those who do not wish to know.

And, it needs to be said, I suppose, that those who do not wish to know will always outnumber those who know. We can see it in these days without looking too hard. Creationism and intelligent design are proposed by those groups who do not wish to know, who are willing to subsitute a simple falsehood for the reality that they see as being devoid of redeeming value.

We must work to encourage all children and adults to learn widely about as much as possible. The universe will open up before us like an oyster if we can simply have the knowledge to grasp the cosmic knife that is our ability to understand our world and each other. Without this, the universe will remain cold and invincible to our attempts at grasping its pearls.

1 comment:

fellowcitizen2002 said...

I agree. In today's world I'm often confronted with people who argue that knowledge per se is less important that knowing where to find knowledge. Further with the internet being what it is, everyone knows where to find knowledge.

I believe that each of us should strive to have a body of encyclopedic knowledge., That is a basic knowledge about as many topics as possible.

I can find much knowledge on the internet, just as in books and periodicals, that is non-sense. It is by having a basic knowledge to draw upon that I can recognize these sources as unreliable. Without some ability to compare I have no choice but to accept knowledge as given or rely on hunches and guesswork.

Finally, knowledge I have, and can therefore use at need, is more valuable than knowledge that must be found, studied, and assimilated prior to use.