Versatile ManIt is, perhaps,
no accident that many of the outstanding figures of the past
were exceptionally versatile men.
Right up until comparatively recent times,
it was possible for an intelligent person
to acquaint himself with almost every branch of knowledge.
Thus, men of genius like Leonardo da Vinci or Sir Philip Sidney,
engaged in many careers at once as a matter of course.
Da Vinci was so busy with his numerous inventions,
that he barely found the time to complete his paintings;
Sidney, who died in battle
when he was only thirty-two years old,
was not only a great soldier,
but a brilliant scholar and poet as well.
Both these men came very near
to fulfilling the Renaissance ideal of the “universal man”,
the man who was good at everything.
Today, we rarely, if ever,
hear that a musician has just invented a new type of submarine.
Knowledge has become divided and sub-divided into countless,
The specialist is respected;
the versatile person, far from being admired,
is more often regarded with suspicion.
The modern world is a world of highly-skilled “experts”
who have had to devote the greater part of their lives
to a very limited field of study
in order to compete with their fellows.
With this high degree of specialization,
the frontiers of knowledge are steadily being pushed back
more rapidly than ever before.
But this has not been achieved without considerable cost.
who outside his own particular subject is little more than an idiot,
is a modern phenomenon;
as is the man of letters who is barely aware of the tremendous strides
that have been made in technology.
specialization has indirectly affected quite ordinary people
in every walk of life.
Many activities which were once pursued for their own sakes,
are often given up in despair:
they require techniques,
the experts tell us,
which take a life-time to master.
Why learn to play the piano,
when you can listen to the world’s greatest pianists
in your own drawing-room?
2011-05-24 11:17 编辑：juliatt