by Carter Phipps (German translation see below)
As I was researching my book, Evolutionaries, I made an interesting observation: This is not a world built for generalists. It is a world built for specialists. What’s valued intellectually is specialty knowledge—expertise on the mechanics of eukaryotic cells or the chemistry of black holes or the life cycles of ant colonies. Even within individual disciplines, the drumbeat of specialization takes precedence over broader systems of knowledge. It’s not enough to be a physicist; one is a particle physicist or a quantum loop theorist or a string theorist. It’s not enough to be an historian; one is an expert on Renaissance social customs or South Asian political dynamics in the eighteenth century. Indeed, the degree of specialization in our collective knowledge base is both stunning in its depth and detail and frightening in its increasing fragmentation.
“Most educated people at the beginning of the twenty-first century consider themselves to be specialists.” Writes Craig Eisendrath. “Yet what is needed for the task of understanding our culture’s evolution, and of framing a new cultural paradigm, is the generalist’s capacity to look at culture’s many dimensions and to put together ideas from disparate sources.”
The people I have come to call “Evolutionaries” are generalists for this very reason. Their critical insights are a result of thinking as a generalist must think—with a passionate but broad curiosity that fans out across culture and sees connections, patterns, transitions, and trends where others only see discrete facts and details. An Evolutionary must be able to look at the movements of nature, culture, and cosmos as a whole, yet without denying the infinite detail that surrounds us.
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