Here is an article I found on the Internet, at the H2G2 (Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) site, that I take umbrage with. Especially the line “There is no hard-and-fast definition of a polymath; but it’s a title that should be given to someone by others, and not self-appointed.”
Of course I’m annoyed. Just last post I said I’m a bit of a polymath. So I obviously take the opposite position. I hope the title of this post sums up what I think of H2G2’s position. They are trying to enforce humility. Fake humility is nothing short of dishonest. With enforced humility, there are bound to be some fakers and thus liars.
Plus, that position leads to stealing a word from the intellectually endowed. Even Leonardo da Vinci himself would have to spend time in a dance, to get someone else to call him a polymath. That time could have been better spent coming up with a new invention.
Indeed, after seeing this position I’m even against appearing to be humble. So I’m not going to call myself a bit of a polymath but just a straight polymath.
And I like the opposite position I’m taking up. I think only polymaths should be allowed to bestow the word polymath on others. Why? Because only polymaths have the breadth of skills to assess breadth of skills.
By calling someone a polymath I don’t necessarily mean to invoke total awe in people. A straight A student would be enough or perhaps a musician that can fix every part of their car would qualify.
If it wasn’t for the first part of the quote, I would think that the author meant an acclaimed polymath like Leonardo or Aristotle who are name dropped in the article. In the case of the acclaimed polymath I can see the title being best given by other polymaths. Regular polymaths can self name.
And if you actually do go over to the H2G2 page, what is up with the “69” in the logo circle? Shouldn’t it be a 42?