Wednesday, June 29, 2005


My various difficulties with posting about Levinas have gottten me thinking about specialization. The real problem for me in explaining Levinas is that I'm just not that great in philosophy. I love philosophy, but I'm pretty much self-taught in this and all sorts of areas, so I'm sort of a jack of all trades, master of none. Feel free to ask me about Leopold von Ranke or Edward Gibbon or whatever other historian interests you though. I know my historiography.

I'd say my knowledge base works out a bit like this:
History: About five years really
Literature: About a third-year level
Philosophy: One and a half years
Classical History: Second year
Biology: Second year
Antropology: First year
Math and Physics: First or maybe second year
Psychology: Second, maybe third year

What this means is that there are a lot of things that I'm interested in that I really shouldn't shoot my mouth off about! Actually, if I were to stick to things that I know really well, I'd have to only post about the 19th century in France! But, I'm terrified of specialization. It's rampant in the academy, but I feel like it's small-minded and puts one at risk of being totally useless. I'm under the impression that the business world is moving away from it too. Are there other options besides sounding like a know-nothing pisher and being a specialist who can only communicate with 20 people on earth? Or will it just take a few decades to get there?

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