Is Specialization Calcifying Our Ability to Create?
2013 11 12

From: TruthDig



In an intriguing essay about the nature of work and creativity, writer Robert Twigger argues at the website Aeon that an industrial-led move to divisions of labor has stifled modern creativity. True innovation, he suggests, comes from cross-pollination—and breaking through the walls of one specialty to tap into the energy of another.

Part of the equation is the advent of sedentary work environments. Physical labor, he notes, helps hone intellectual muscle, as does viewing the world through a horizontal filter—the polymath—rather than a vertical one—the monopath, as he calls it.
We hear the descriptive words psychopath and sociopath all the time, but here’s a new one: monopath. It means a person with a narrow mind, a one-track brain, a bore, a super-specialist, an expert with no other interests—in other words, the role-model of choice in the Western world. You think I jest? In June, I was invited on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 to say a few words on the river Nile, because I had a new book about it. The producer called me “Dr. Twigger” several times. I was flattered, but I also felt a sense of panic. I have never sought or held a PhD. After the third “Dr.,” I gently put the producer right. And of course, it was fine—he didn’t especially want me to be a doctor. The culture did. My Nile book was necessarily the work of a generalist. But the radio needs credible guests. It needs an expert—otherwise why would anyone listen?

The monopathic model derives some of its credibility from its success in business. In the late 18th century, Adam Smith (himself an early polymath who wrote not only on economics but also philosophy, astronomy, literature and law) noted that the division of labor was the engine of capitalism. His famous example was the way in which pin-making could be broken down into its component parts, greatly increasing the overall efficiency of the production process. But Smith also observed that ‘mental mutilation’ followed the too-strict division of labor. Or as Alexis de Tocqueville wrote: “Nothing tends to materialize man, and to deprive his work of the faintest trace of mind, more than extreme division of labor.”

Henry Ford recognized the problem, too, even as he revolutionized manufacturing with his innovative moving assembly line.

[...]

Read the full article at: truthdig.com




Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Pre-historic tokens used in conjunction with cuneiform
2014 07 22
An archaeological dig in southeast Turkey has uncovered a large number of clay tokens that were used as records of trade until the advent of writing, or so it had been believed. But a new find of tokens, dates from a time when writing was commonplace – thousands of years after it was previously assumed this technology had become obsolete. Researchers ...
Are immigration opponents Nazis?
2014 07 22
It seems the usual suspects are calling anyone who opposes unlimited immigration to be a "Nazi". The Left seems to be in constant fear of "Nazis" that lurk in public policy discussions and I assume under their beds. If you oppose any Leftist position, you are a.... take a wild guess...wait for it.... a NAZI! Tim Wise recently went ...
What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?
2014 07 22
Exclusive: The U.S. media’s Ukraine bias has been obvious, siding with the Kiev regime and bashing ethnic Russian rebels and Russia’s President Putin. But now – with the scramble to blame Putin for the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down – the shoddy journalism has grown truly dangerous, says Robert Parry. In the heat of the U.S. media’s latest war hysteria – rushing to ...
Oh, Great: Robots Are Set to Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews
2014 07 22
Advancing a career in the US government might soon require an interview with a computer-generated head who wants to know about that time you took ketamine. Psychologists at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA) are developing an interview system that uses a responsive on-screen avatar for the first stage of the national security clearance process. Initial screening for a variety ...
Is Anything on the Internet Real Anymore?
2014 07 22
Is there anybody…out there? I promise I’m a real person asking this question and typing this article…but beyond that, I can’t promise much else about anything you or I see on the Internet. This article on ZDNet, “GCHQ’s dark arts: Leaked documents reveal online manipulation, Facebook, YouTube snooping,” confirms — beyond a shadow of any possible doubt — that a barrage of ...
More News »