Specialized Quotes (9 quotes)
[A man] must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings in order to acquire a proper relationship to individual fellow-men and to the community. These precious things … primarily constitutes and preserves culture. This is what I have in mind when I recommend the “humanities” as important, not just dry specialized knowledge in the fields of history and philosophy.
Anthropologists are highly individual and specialized people. Each of them is marked by the kind of work he or she prefers and has done, which in time becomes an aspect of that individual’s personality.
It is not enough to teach man a specialty. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine, but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise he—with his specialized knowledge—more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person.
It would seem at first sight as if the rapid expansion of the region of mathematics must be a source of danger to its future progress. Not only does the area widen but the subjects of study increase rapidly in number, and the work of the mathematician tends to become more and more specialized. It is, of course, merely a brilliant exaggeration to say that no mathematician is able to understand the work of any other mathematician, but it is certainly true that it is daily becoming more and more difficult for a mathematician to keep himself acquainted, even in a general way, with the progress of any of the branches of mathematics except those which form the field of his own labours. I believe, however, that the increasing extent of the territory of mathematics will always be counteracted by increased facilities in the means of communication. Additional knowledge opens to us new principles and methods which may conduct us with the greatest ease to results which previously were most difficult of access; and improvements in notation may exercise the most powerful effects both in the simplification and accessibility of a subject. It rests with the worker in mathematics not only to explore new truths, but to devise the language by which they may be discovered and expressed; and the genius of a great mathematician displays itself no less in the notation he invents for deciphering his subject than in the results attained. … I have great faith in the power of well-chosen notation to simplify complicated theories and to bring remote ones near and I think it is safe to predict that the increased knowledge of principles and the resulting improvements in the symbolic language of mathematics will always enable us to grapple satisfactorily with the difficulties arising from the mere extent of the subject.
Overemphasis on the competitive system and premature specialization on the ground of immediate usefulness kill the spirit on which all cultural life depends.
Physics is the basic science. One can easily argue that all other sciences are specialized aspects of physics.
Science has to be understood in its broadest sense, as a method for apprehending all observable reality, and not merely as an instrument for acquiring specialized knowledge.
The choice of zoology as a main subject [at university] was to follow up my childhood love of nature. … My animal studies never became quite what I had hoped for. We hardly heard of wild beasts and the way they lived in the wilderness. We sliced up intestines and looked at them under the microscope … but their life and function in the environment was ignored in favor of their Latin names. … Was our knowledge of nature superior to, or only different from, that of the eagle-eyed Polynesian islanders, who specialized in appraising nature the way it could best benefit man? I had to think as a scientist now. Not as a Polynesian yet. Knowledge was to be sought independently of its purpose.
The real accomplishment of modern science and technology consists in taking ordinary men, informing them narrowly and deeply and then, through appropriate organization, arranging to have their knowledge combined with that of other specialized but equally ordinary men. This dispenses with the need for genius. The resulting performance, though less inspiring, is far more predictable.