Specialization Quotes

Quotes tagged as "specialization" Showing 1-30 of 52
André Gide
“Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself- and thus make yourself indispensable.”
André Gide

Antonin Sertillanges
“It is a painful thing to say to oneself: by choosing one road I am turning my back on a thousand others. Everything is interesting; everything might be useful; everything attracts and charms a noble mind; but death is before us; mind and matter make their demands; willy-nilly we must submit and rest content as to things that time and wisdom deny us, with a glance of sympathy which is another act of our homage to the truth.”
Antonin Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods

Robert M. Pirsig
“The range of human knowledge today is so great that we're all specialists and the distance between specializations has become so great that anyone who seeks to wander freely between them almost has to forego closeness with the people around him.”
Robert M. Pirsig

“If we treated careers more like dating, nobody would settle down so quickly.”
David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Roger Lowenstein
“The modern spirit is a hesitant one. Spontaneity has given way to cautious legalisms, and the age of heroes has been superseded by a cult of specialization. We have no more giants; only obedient ants.”
Roger Lowenstein, Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist

Richard P. Feynman
“Of course, I am interested, but I would not dare to talk about them. In talking about the impact of ideas in one field on ideas in another field, one is always apt to make a fool of oneself. In these days of specialization there are too few people who have such a deep understanding of two departments of our knowledge that they do not make fools of themselves in one or the other.”
Richard P. Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

“I spent most of my life trying to specialize myself. I went to theater school, film school, music school, mime school ... Finally, I was able to gather enough knowledge to build the confidence to create my own work, that goes utterly against the sense of specialization.”
Nuno Roque

“mental meandering and personal experimentation are sources of power, and head starts are overrated”
David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Evelyn Waugh
“Rex has never been unkind to me intentionally. It's just that he isn't a real person at all; he's just a few faculties of a man highly developed; the rest simply isn't there.”
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

Richard Fletcher
“It is a wholly deplorable state of affairs when specialists in any discipline talk only to each other, and accordingly I have sought to write a book which will communicate some of the fruits of research in a manner which will make them accessible to all.”
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity

Tom Robbins
“To specialize is to brush one tooth. When a person specializes he channels all of his energies through one narrow conduit; he knows one thing extremely well and is ignorant of almost everything else.”
Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Christopher McDougall
“It was the end of the era of the amateur, a time when everyone had to be a bit of everything. You helped your neighbors build their homes, fight their fires, raise and butcher and preserve their own food. You knew how to repair a weapon, pull a tooth, hammer a horseshoe, and deliver a child. But industrialization fostered specialization—and it was fantastic. Trained pros were better than self-taught amateurs, and their expertise allowed them to demand and develop better tools for their crafts—tools that only they knew how to operate. Over time, a subtle cancer spread: where you have more experts, you create more bystanders. Professionals did all the fighting and fixing we used to handle ourselves; they even took over our fun, playing our sports while we sat back and watched.”
Christopher McDougall, Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance

“The history of learning amounts to a history of specialization.”
Beryl Smalley, Historians In The Middle Ages

José Ortega y Gasset
“And such in fact is the behaviour of the specialist. In politics, in art, in social usages, in the other sciences, he will adopt the attitude of primitive, ignorant man; but he will adopt them forcefully and with self-sufficiency, and will not admit of- this is the paradox- specialists in those matters. By specialising him, civilisation has made him hermetic and self-satisfied within his limitations; but this very inner feeling of dominance and worth will induce him to wish to predominate outside his speciality. The result is that even in this case, representing a maximum of qualification in man- specialisation- and therefore the thing most opposed to the mass-man, the result is that he will behave in almost all spheres of life as does the unqualified, the mass-man.”
José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses

“The greatest thing about our times is that you don't need permission to express yourself the way you wish. Sometimes people tell themselves they can't do it, because they're missing this or that, but historically, specialization is a recent convention. Most of us are born natural polymaths.”
Nuno Roque

José Ortega y Gasset
“The specialist serves as a striking concrete example of the species, making clear to us the radical nature of the novelty. For, previously, men could be divided simply into the learned and the ignorant, those more or less the one, and those more or less the other. But your specialist cannot be brought in under either of these two categories. He is not learned , for he is formally ignorant of all that does not enter into his speciality; but neither is he ignorant, because he is "a scientist," and "knows" very well his own tiny portion of the universe. We shall have to say that he is a learned ignoramus, which is a very serious matter, as it implies that he is a person who is ignorant, not in the fashion of the ignorant man, but with an the petulance of one who is learned in his own special line.”
Ortega y Gasset

Ryan North
“Specialization gives the people in your civilization the opportunity to go further in any direction of study than any other human has gone before. It unlocks doctors who can devote their entire lives to curing disease, librarians who can devote their entire lives to ensuring the accumulated knowledge of humanity remains safe and accessible, and writers who, fresh out of school, take the first job they find and devote the most productive years of their lives to writing corporate repair manuals for rental-market time machines that their bosses almost certainly don't even read,* ironically for so little money that they can't possibly afford to go back and fix that one horrible, horrible mistake.”
Ryan North, How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveller

“an official with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission learned I was writing about specialization and contacted me to make sure I knew that specialization had played a critical role in the 2008 global financial crisis. “Insurance regulators regulated insurance, bank regulators regulated banks, securities regulators regulated securities, and consumer regulators regulated consumers,” the official told me. “But the provision of credit goes across all those markets. So we specialized products, we specialized regulation, and the question is, ‘Who looks across those markets?’ The specialized approach to regulation missed systemic issues.”
David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

“Today every believer has the potential to become a savior and a deliverer in his own area of specialization if only he/she make himself available”
Sunday Adelaja

Immanuel Kant
“All trades, arts, and handiwork have gained by division of labor, namely, when, instead of one man doing everything, each confines himself to a certain kind of work distinct from others in the treatment it requires, so as to be able to perform it with greater facility and in the greatest perfection.”
Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals

Israelmore Ayivor
“The more you concentrate on what you discover that you will be good for you to pursue, the more experienced you will be while doing it.”
Israelmore Ayivor, Leaders' Frontpage: Leadership Insights from 21 Martin Luther King Jr. Thoughts

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
“Imagine if one should drag an innocent passer-by from the street to the operating room of a nearby hospital and force him at gunpoint to perform a delicate operation. The man would burst into tears. However, if one were to ask him to sound off on problems such as nuclear experiments, Vietnam, the borders of Israel, support for Indonesia, aid to Latin America, or recognition of Red China, in most cases he would start spouting opinions.”
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Leftism Revisited: from de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot

“Always improve on things you do better and faster.”
Sunday Adelaja, How To Become Great Through Time Conversion: Are you wasting time, spending time or investing time?

Atul Gawande
“Surgeons are so absurdly ultraspecialized that when we joke about right ear surgeons and left ear surgeons, we have to check to be sure they don't exist”
Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto - Atul Gawande: 1

“Given the distinct pressures to specialize in various professional fields, we are losing track of the advantages of developing in the entirety of the human psyche.”
Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

Alexander Pope
“One science only will one genius fit”
Alexander Pope, An Essay On Criticism

Herbert A. Simon
“When a domain reaches a point where the knowledge for skillful professional practice cannot be acquired in a decade, more or less, then several adaptive developments are likely to occur. Specialization will usually increase (as it has, for example, in medicine), and practitioners will make increasing use of books and other external reference aids in their work.

Architecture is a good example of a domain where much of the information a professional requires is stored in reference works, such as catalogues of available building materials, equipment, and components, and official building codes. No architect expects to keep all of this in his head or to design without frequent resort to these information sources. In fact architecture can almost be taken as a prototype for the process of design in a semantically rich task domain. The emerging design is itself incorporated in a set of external memory structures: sketches, floor plans, drawings of utility systems, and so on. At each stage in the design process, partial design reflected in these documents serves as a major stimulus suggesting to the designer what he should attend to next. This direction to new sub-goals permits in turn new information to be extracted from memory and reference sources and another step to be taken toward the development of the design.”
Herbert A. Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial

Wendell Berry
“The specialists are profiting too well from the symptoms, evidently, to be concerned about cures—just as the myth of imminent cure (by some “breakthrough” of science or technology) is so lucrative and all-justifying as to foreclose any possibility of an interest in prevention.”
Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture

Shane Parrish
“The quality of our thinking is largely influenced by the mental models in our heads. While we want accurate models, we also want a wide variety of models to uncover what’s really happening. The key here is variety. Most of us study something specific and don’t get exposure to the big ideas of other disciplines. We don’t develop the multidisciplinary mindset that we need to accurately see a problem. And because we don’t have the right models to understand the situation, we overuse the models we do have and use them even when they don’t belong.

You’ve likely experienced this first hand. An engineer will often think in terms of systems by default. A psychologist will think in terms of incentives. A business person might think in terms of opportunity cost and risk-reward. Through their disciplines, each of these people sees part of the situation, the part of the world that makes sense to them. None of them, however, see the entire situation unless they are thinking in a multidisciplinary way. In short, they have blind spots. Big blind spots. And they’re not aware of their blind spots.
[...]
Relying on only a few models is like having a 400-horsepower brain that’s only generating 50 horsepower of output. To increase your mental efficiency and reach your 400-horsepower potential, you need to use a latticework of mental models. Exactly the same sort of pattern that graces backyards everywhere, a lattice is a series of points that connect to and reinforce each other. The Great Models can be understood in the same way—models influence and interact with each other to create a structure that can be used to evaluate and understand ideas.
[...]
Without a latticework of the Great Models our decisions become harder, slower, and less creative. But by using a mental models approach, we can complement our specializations by being curious about how the rest of the world works. A quick glance at the Nobel Prize winners list show that many of them, obviously extreme specialists in something, had multidisciplinary interests that supported their achievements.
[...]
The more high-quality mental models you have in your mental toolbox, the more likely you will have the ones needed to understand the problem. And understanding is everything. The better you understand, the better the potential actions you can take. The better the potential actions, the fewer problems you’ll encounter down the road. Better models make better decisions.”
Shane Parrish, The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts

Shane Parrish
“We also tend to undervalue the elementary ideas and overvalue the complicated ones. Most of us get jobs based on some form of specialized knowledge, so this makes sense. We don’t think we have much value if we know the things everyone else does, so we focus our effort on developing unique expertise to set ourselves apart. The problem is then that we reject the simple to make sure what we offer can’t be contributed by someone else. But simple ideas are of great value because they can help us prevent complex problems.

In identifying the Great Mental Models we have looked for elementary principles, the ideas from multiple disciplines that form a time-tested foundation. It may seem counterintuitive, to work on developing knowledge that is available to everyone, but the universe works in the same way no matter where you are in it. What you need is to understand the principles, so that when the details change you are still able to identify what is really going on. This is part of what makes the Great Mental Models so valuable—understanding the principles, you can easily change tactics to apply the ones you need.”
Shane Parrish, The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts

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