Polymathy

A polymath is a person who is good at many subjects and skills. They have a lifelong love of learning and they consider all knowledge to be of use to them. Sometimes a polymath will have multiple talents, such as in music, art, architecture, and mathematics, or sometimes their only talent is in persistance.

I am not yet a polymath but I certainly wish to be one. Three examples of famous polymaths are Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Charles Lindbergh. I have known a few true polymaths. They are fun to be around! Unfortunately, I think the modern world doesn’t value these people as much as it once did. That’s too bad because polymaths, not specialists, drive progress.

In his book, “Time Enough for love,” Robert Heinlein said it well.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

What do you think? Have you met a polymath? Are you one? If not, do you want to be one? If not, why not?