9 June 2008

Discussion; which is better?

Is it better to be...

1- a specialized expert in something specific (ie, really good at it, whatever it is), with minor knowledge of other subjects in general.

OR


2- to have a good overall knowledge in a number of subjects, being reasonable at all of them, but not quite spectacular at any.


It is not relevant whether this question is related to study, work, play, or life. Just answer the question with what you think, in general, and why.

23 comments:

Hasan said...
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Hasan said...

I know that this is cop out answer, but I would have to say it would be somewhere in between both options, and ultimately, whatever makes you happier.


I'm sure that this is slightly out of context, but Milan Kundera points out in his "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" that Pascal mentions in a pensee that "man lives between the abyss of the infinitely large and the infinetely small".

In other words, both "specific"(small) and "general"(large) are two sides of the same coin: they are infinite.

On the OTHER hand, you might also want to take a look at Edward Said's "Representations of the Intellectual" in which he discusses this issue at length and on more than one occasion throughout the work.


I this helps you hope you find your answer :)

Woozie said...

The first. I don't know, the second just seems so average. Anybody can be mediocre at everything.

N. said...

You know the famous saying, "jack of all trades, master of none" ? Well that's the second. Which is usually seen as not a very good thing. It would be better to know specific things, then you can easily pick up on some of the other information from others specialized in other fields. This way, the level of your general knowledge would rise, while still maintaining a very high specialized intellect.

KJ said...

You can combine some of both worlds..

However when I watch documentaries or something where the people involved have dedicated all their lives studying something or have become experts in something, I just ask myself how much of the other stuff have they missed out on in life.

Anonymous said...

I think 2 is most modest but in my perfect world it would be a combination of 1+2.

What happens in various segments of society is people exhibit 1. and make it look as if they still know everything of everything ie experts of everything hence following an option you didnt provide - Option 3 (Pseudo Experts of everything - dont you doubt me or I'll abuse you!)

Of course people who exhibit 2 can be equally dangerous. Like table tennis players trying to play defense in basketball. They could take your face off with all that arm flinging. :)

I like kjs' thoughts.

..::Amu::.. said...

I would say number 2

Anonymous said...

I also think a combination of the two would be the best. Although if I had to choose between the two, I'd go with number 1. As it would effect the lifestyle of a person directly. Unlike having knowledge about various things but not going anywhere..

Shoush said...
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Shoush said...

I wud say #2, cuz that's my life philosophy and something i find myself naturally more interested in. Ma7ib a3arif wayid 3an shay wa7id cuz it bores me to be honest, but i love to know a little about AS MANY THINGS AS POSSIBLE.

Muizz said...

number 1. itha two people who specialise in 2 different things get together, they can produce a whole greater than the sum of their parts : 2+2 = 5
i think its called synergy
bas if 2 people who know a bit about everything get together, they only still can produce your regular
2+2 = 4, which is pretty boring

Coolred38 said...

A person who is an expert in one thing...is interesting to talk to...as long as your talking about that one thing....with everything else its a no go.

Someone who knows a little about everything...at least can keep a conversation going well after the expert has run out of things to say...just my opinion.

Redbelt said...

As a training consultant, I would assume you be talking about work and study:
Specialize. Otherwise, you are nothing special. If you aren't special, there is no reason for anyone to give you that high salary or that special position.
Heck, even in anything else: Football teams get a defender because he defends without caring if he can throw a header or not. I pick the fast car in Mario Kart not paying attention to the poor offroad ability.
Be special. Not hard for you to be anyway.

BuZain said...

Rephrasing your question, hoping to lead to other angles of discussion, would be:

Do you want to know lots of things about very few things?
OR
Do you want to know few things about lots of things?


Another rephrasing would be:

Do you want to be
a scientist
OR
an intellectual?

I personally believe that we are in an era of specialization. However, I tend to struggle with this belief everyday, hoping to strike a balance between the two options.

snowysensation said...

Everything's been weaved around one center. If that center is lost, you come up with institutionalisation of everything around you forming subjects as they are right now. The worst part is when we draw a line, a definite line around everything and then we try hard to understand things in isolation not realising that if we can understand that center, we can actually have command over each and everything... either sciences or social sciences...

Shionge said...

I am not sure what I have crafted out to be but I certainly do meet people who are very specialized in their field of works and yet come across as very knowledgeable in general too.

So I suppose it is to be no 1 with a bit of 2.

Hope that helps.

ammaro said...

great input guys... lots of different views and insight into this...

this is a general question actually, not related to any field in specific. sure, in the world of work, for example, you could get paid more to be a specialist. but, wouldn't you make a better overall general manager if you had an overall knowledge rather than a focus on a specific point of view? same with studies, same with anything else.

I dont think there's one or the other that' actually better, it will all depend on what you're trying to achieve with your life.

something to think about.

someone mentioned pseudo experts, who are actually good at EVERYTHING. yeah, thanks, that's me, actually.

Zhu said...

I don't know which one is best...

In France, people are trained to be highly specialized. I was. And it proved hard to get a job because even if I developed other practical skills over the years, my specific training is what people see on my resume.

On the other side, in Canada, people tend to know a bit of everything and are adaptable... yet sometimes not that qualified for specific tasks.

I guess ultimately it depends on the job.

icon said...

I've got through alot of things and issues and I needed the answer of this question. which is better 1 or 2...??

I guess I will never find the healing answer!! I chose to study two majors at the same period of my life just because I was not convinced about my study and if its going to be useful for my future or not, but its something I liked. Now, I study two totally different studies and Im not satisfied yet but Im doing well so far 'cause Im slightly convinced about them .. and Im sure that sooner or later I'll choose something else to study because its not enough !!

Boiling Ice said...

I would say to be in between, but would not go with 2 only..

to me situation 2 is like "Jack of all trades, master of none"...

Beta-human, Shale bin Agnon said...

It depends on your risk aversion. If you are very specialised, then you get paid more, but, if your industry hits a rough spot, you will find it hard to get other work.

Fastidious Babe said...

well i was faced with making this decision at work.. and i went with the general/comprehensive approach.. rather than specializing in one field.

Why i think its better: because i think that once u focus on one specialty, u lose the whole picture.. and it is always important to keep everything in perspective..

Grey said...

The second version is called " Jack of all Master of none" ... i'm one of them...