Perhaps slightly too hardcore. But a fascinating position anyways --
"We are in an age that assumes the narrowing trends of specialization to be logical, natural, and desirable. Consequently, society expects all earnestly responsible communication to be crisply brief. Advancing science has now discovered that all the known cases of biological extinction have been caused by overspecialization, whose concentration of only selected genes sacrifices general adaptability. Thus the specialist's brief for pinpoint brevity is dubious. IN the meantime, humanity has been deprived of comprehensive understanding. Specialization has bred feelings of isolation, futility, and confusion in individuals. It has also resulted in the individual's leaving responsibility for thinking and social action to others. Specialization breeds biases that ultimately aggregate as international and ideological discord, which, in turn, leads to war." -- Buckminster Fullter, Synergistics
I never get tired of that list. I can do all but conn a ship, butcher a hog and set a bone. Dying gallantly remains to be seen but I think I have the temperament for it.
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.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Very thought provoking.
The timing is good as I really needed to hear something like that right now.
My life aim is to become a capable generalist, with a few peaks of specialization perhaps.
This is a lot harder than becoming a specialist, I think. Compare a decathlete versus a pure runner or a javelin thrower for instance.
I realize this kind of goes against the message in Ikigai to not fuck around with too many life aims, but it is what it is :p
Now, that is interesting. Crisp, brief communication has been taken to a new level in the age of inbox-zero e-mail.
I suggest that communication be bifurcated into production and conversation. To communicate by production means to simply do or make something. So, rather than talking about what a website should do with a client, I simply take a quick stab at it and let them respond to me by producing a critique, an annotated screenshot, a mockup, etc. If e-mail is used it's only to point to the production, and this functionality can be replaced by an automatic Basecamp message, a cron job that watches an IP address for changes, and so on.
That leaves written/spoken communication nothing to conversation. By that I mean, the purpose of speaking and talking should return to organizing thoughts through logic and rhetoric and inquiring into new, not-yet-productive ideas, and metaphysical ideas which are never directly productive but are the genesis of the will to produce.
With its old perfunctory purpose stripped, communication can only expand, become creative and playful and diverge as much as the minds of its creators are willing and able.
SELF-TRANSCENDENCE AND MORALITY: Human Creativity in the Thought of Nietzsche and Confucius -
According to Nietzsche self-transcendence is the common essence of all moral codes: "Man is something that should be overcome." Self-transcendence is of the essence not only of morality, but of humans themselves; it is one’s authentic, civilized humanity. Nietzsche’s model of the self-perfected most authentically civilized man is the overman or the one who has overcome or transcended himself. Self-overcoming as the basis of self-transcendence and self-perfection is in brief what the Nietzschean conception of man is all about.
Confucius once said: "To overcome oneself and return to li is what is meant by jen." What Confucius means by li and jen may be put succinctly: li is what constitutes the civilized order by which our authentic humanity or jen is defined. To be more specific, li is the ritual propriety essential to civilized life; it is the civilizing factor or element -- the "civilized form", if you will -- that distinguishes human from non-human existence. The civilizing function of li lies precisely in its disciplinary power or the human power of self-command. Like the Nietzschean overman, the Confucian chun tzu or superior man is also an authentic, civilized human being: he, too, is one who has overcome or transcended himself.
Overcome humanity - the worst elements of humanity - to truly become human.
There is something known as a cave angelfish that resides solely in cave waterfalls. They use microscopic hooks on its fins to hang onto the cave wall, and intercept nutritious particles that are literally falling on top of them in the waterfall. As far as we know, they only exist in two individual waterfalls, both in Thailand.
Schools of dolphin work in teams to drive shoals of mackerel towards the surface of the water, trapping them. Waiting above, sea birds pick them off, diving up to 20 meters down into the waters. An efficient system. The birds would not eat without the help of dolphins. And at the end of the day, the mackerel are still great in number.
The rainforests are a powerful demonstration of the 80/20 principle. They cover only 3% of the surface of the earth, but contain more than 50% of all known species of animal. And millions of species of insect -- we have no idea how many exactly.
The tropical rainforests are also the most balanced ecosystem on the planet. There is an animal, plant, or fungus to fulfill every possible role. Everything works in perfect harmony.
When you think about money, our global economy is a pathetic parody of the real global economy that has been going on for millions of years, long before we reared our ugly mugs.