My idea is to see what form people think an Institute of Polymathy should take? A clubhouse with cosy chairs? A virtual society? A series of micro-associations with reciprocal agreements all round the planet?
Inkeeping with the subject it should probably have many forms for starters.
Hi, Robert, Chris
Fully agree with Chris. All available / functional means. Most especially virtual, since members will be from all around the planet (hopefully :)
Hi Robert, if you're looking for commitment, you may find that there is more in the real world than on-line; though of course many around the world will only be able to contribute on-line and being on-line will help others find you, if you want to achieve critical mass (it's not uncommon to have a group of 200 on-line with only a handful of regular contributors and you'll need a good head of steam). Facebook and twitter are good for getting a message out, but it's difficult to generate much interest in groups at Facebook. Some specialist forums such as conspiracy theories and paganism have masses of dedicated followers, bucking the growing trend and shift away from discussion to social networking, however).
If the forum will be busy, then I'd go for something like PHPBB or Simple Machine Forums (SMF), which are scalable, feature multiple forums and sub forums and above make it easier to follow complex threads. The MediaWiki software used by Wikipedia is also freely available, if you want to build up a collaborative knowledge base. All these use the MySQL database and PHP scripting, which you can either run on your own web server or run on a hosted server.
with good wishes,eric t.
You could also look at a Content Management System (CMS) which allows you to build a multi-functional web-site using customizable plug-in modules. The forum module, however, may not be up to the task.
These are all great points and Eric, looks like you are talking yourself into the role of webmeister of the institute! I think though at this stage it's about playing with the idea and stretching it any old way you like- just having fun with it really, fantasising, looking far into the future as well as what might happen right now.
Pardon an ignorant question, but what would be the purpose (or purposes) of the Institute?
not ignorant at all- in fact it is key. Is it for propaganda? Is it to readdress an overlooked need? I suspect the latter. I am also coming round to the idea that polymathy needs a little iron in its soul. Leonardo was as proud of his ability to bend iron bars as he was of his painting. So any re-introduction of polymathy must emphasise (along with art and intellect) competency in some physical arena- even pure brute strength will do. So I see the task as reintroducing all over the place a version of polymathy with teeth, so to speak.
It's the old 3H formula:Head, Heart, HandsHHHCuriously enough, sometimes so-called ''intelectual'' problems find their solution doing some kind of manual labour. Or playing guitar. The reverse also holds true. The key is found not ''at home'' when it was lost but under the street light post.Paradoxical, therefore (in this world of Space/Time) true.
i had some thoughts.. i am starting up a roofing company again after a 10 or so year absence during which i did a few other things. a few months ago i started working at a company for wage and have been hatching, contemplating, imagining a company.this is simply a thought direction, nothing formed but forming ..what form should it take? a project say a high rise in downtown Vancouver, a client with an appetite for the artistic as well as the practical. firstly a well designed and installed membrane and green roof drainage system...tough hot and heavy work....watertight put on with a tradesmans' attention to detail, a rooftop garden...vegetables, a connection with the those that want to grow or to eat! a solar powered pump to pump rainwater as irrigation...beauty too!..( many of the rooftop gardens forget beauty and the idea of " secret gardens " beautiful gardens, water features streams and ponds... a stage of sorts for musical and theatrical performance...a place to speak or sing or dance or teach ..all this on a rooftop in a downtown environment...these ideas are simply to have a starting point , something to build around on or against..! ..
i also like the idea of learning in an accelerated way...i have thought over the years of an academy of sorts where people enter a course that is delivered intensely as in the TV program " dancing with the stars ",. a person from say football or a carpenter learns to dance quite well in a very short period of time because of the hours they put in! 10 12 hours a day over and over..using this method for say aikido (? ) seems to work. or roofing or dance or drumming or public speaking or clowning or any other skill that in learning frees us and allows us to see that our limits are self imposed.....
what form...cozy chairs and a lovely club? maybe. cairo or vancouver? a group of academies/ institutes formed in different cities..with special visits from robert. ! maybe winters in cairo summers in vancouver?
of course we have rob mustard himself here!!! so if the brute physical portion would include aikido then we might have some here. my shoulder may pop out but in the interest of the " institute " i will try...
RE: John's second point. There was a programme in the UK called Faking It where somebody would learn a skill, like being a chef for example, and then go up in a competition against pros. The idea was to see if they could con the judges and most did and won.They were schooled in communication and deportment as well as the apposite technical knowledge fro the particular job. The thing was that in a month they probably learnt enough to continue learning the task and convincing people they were worth teaching. And it was always something well removed from what they were used to doing.Basically I think we can learn to do a huge range of things well and remarkably quickly if the learning experience is intense enough.
I think we need Robert Heinlein's immortal words on here as well since they pretty much constitute a polymath manifesto:
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
Polymathy with teeth enough for you Rob?
micro associations sound good to me. mastery as the banner...
maybe intensive over term.... patient intensity, undulating intensity.
Along the lines of the heptathlon and the decathlon, the 'UCCA points' university entrance concept and scout badges I suggest the future members could as one of the institute's activities discuss and 'calibrate' individuals polymathic capabilities in a kind of linear way.
Individuals then have to do some kind of demonstration or exam that they come up with which could involve a mixture of viva voce plus 'stuff I made earlier'.
The plan I hatched for myself was to put on a show for charity in a Cabaret type setting (round tables plus stage) where I did the following:Played the pianoDid portraits of the guestsCooked the foodMade the cocktails (incl Bunuel Martinis??)Explained global warming theoryProved the 5 colour theoremDid card tricksJuggled a footballthrew small prizes from the stage into peoples laps (having memorized their names and faces - ie having to know who to throw to as well as proving I was a good throw)Told a storyHypnotized someoneetc.
The idea of having a league table with 'objective' points and weightings may perhaps be taking it too far. My immediate feeling is that it's not right. But maybe some people like it.
PS Are you allowed to pay compliments to Mr Twigger here?
Mr Twigger thank you for all this.
the idea of apprenticeship. in the trades we have the apprenticeship system where one is taught the trade over 4 years. the schooling is yearly for 6 weeks and the hours logged to a certain amount required. it is functional but one can become say a plumber and spend the majority of the 4 years hanging cast iron pipe on some massive project. hours logged with low expectation schooling dutifully performed. the thought of having an institute where Masters of whatever subject are available....masters of their craft who not only teach the trade but the approach, the attitude the commonality of discipline required for the trade or anything in life. these apprenticeships could take the form required by the particular tradesman teaching the trade and could be long or short or site specific or moving. the future of this could be trades elevated to the quality that is possible but sorely underdeveloped at present.....and the " trades " could include anything blue collar or intellectual or emotional...hopefully all included.
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