Similar to Isaiah Berlin’s (/Archilochus’) Fox and Hedgehog, and Charlie Munger’s mental models, Jacob Burckhardt recognised the need to be an amateur in many fields as much as a specialist in one…

For a craft that involves the integration of so many perspectives – economics, philosophy, psychology, politics, biology, design – amateurism is as important to strategy as any field…

The word ‘amateur’ owes its evil reputation to the arts. An artist must be a master or nothing, and must dedicate his life to his art, for the arts, of their very nature, demand perfection.

In scholarship, on the other hand, a man can only be a master in one particular field, namely as a specialist, and in some field he should be a specialist. But if he is not to forfeit his capacity for taking a general view, or even his respect for general views, he should be an amateur at as many points as possible, privately at any rate, for the increase of his own knowledge and the enrichment of his possible standpoints. Otherwise he will remain ignorant in any field lying outside his own specialty, and perhaps, as a man, a barbarian.

But the amateur, because he loves things, may, in the course of his life, finds points at which to dig deep.

Jacob Burckhardt, Reflections on History (1868) via http://www.waggish.org/2012/jacob-burckhardt-on-amateurism/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s