# Which kind of knowledge is admired and practically useful?

I was just wondering which kind of knowledge is admired and practically useful? Having indepth knowledge and to be an expert on a particular field or having knowledge across various topics? (prince of everything king of nothing)

Borek
Mentor
You can't be a king of something without knowing a bit about everything. Many things are interconnected and it really helps to know about different points of view (used in different branches of science/trade/whatever), they often give interesting insights into what you are doing.

quantknight, WWGD, symbolipoint and 4 others
Both! ...

QuantumQuest
Gold Member
I was just wondering which kind of knowledge is admired and practically useful? Having indepth knowledge and to be an expert on a particular field or having knowledge across various topics? (prince of everything king of nothing)
I totally agree to what Borek said. But also, at least as I see it, you essentially describe two extremes that simply cannot exist, at least in Science. The expert side is not achieved in a "vacuum"; it presupposes a lot of interconnected / correlated things, that have been acquired through spending time and efforts. If you also take into account the current trends, in order to be competitive, you have to become something of an expert in more than one fields of study, so the interconnected / correlated things increase in a non linear fashion. The other extreme - as you describe it, reminds me of philosophy as there is - at least to my knowledge, no master of all sciences.

Also, the premise of something being "admired" in my opinion, should not be the deciding factor for anything and "useful" is something that has to be further clarified regarding whom it refers to - you or society with both being the golden ratio.

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quantknight and symbolipoint
symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Gold Member
I was just wondering which kind of knowledge is admired and practically useful? Having indepth knowledge and to be an expert on a particular field or having knowledge across various topics? (prince of everything king of nothing)
Which kind? They both are. More important is USEFUL IN PRACTICE. Knowledge which is useful, applicable is most admired and most important. Knowledge which becomes useful and practical LATER, will be admired LATER.

quantknight and Stavros Kiri
WWGD
Gold Member
You can't be a king of something without knowing a bit about everything. Many things are interconnected and it really helps to know about different points of view (used in different branches of science/trade/whatever), they often give interesting insights into what you are doing.
An old joke goes that a specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing ( Probably should post this to lame jokes too :) ).

WWGD
Gold Member
I totally agree to what Borek said. But also, at least as I see it, you essentially describe two extremes that simply cannot exist, at least in Science. The expert side is not achieved in a "vacuum"; it presupposes a lot of interconnected / correlated things, that have been acquired through spending time and efforts. If you also take into account the current trends, in order to be competitive, you have to become something of an expert in more than one fields of study, so the interconnected / correlated things increase in a not linear fashion. The other extreme - as you describe it, reminds me of philosophy as there is - at least to my knowledge, no master of all sciences.

Also, the premise of something being "admired" in my opinion, should not be the deciding factor for anything and "useful" is something that has to be further clarified regarding whom it refers to - you or society with both being the golden ratio.
Interesting; I remember a book that described how Chinese culture had trouble with the whole concept ob abstraction because abstraction seemed to require concepts , objects that are connected to each other be required to artificially be considered in isolation, something that seemed inconceivable, plain wrong within their culture.

QuantumQuest
PeroK
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2020 Award
An old joke goes that a specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing ( Probably should post this to lame jokes too :) ).
When I worked in IT I used to say that I knew nothing, but at least I knew nothing about everything.

When I worked in IT I used to say that I knew nothing, but at least I knew nothing about everything.
"I only know one thing: that I don't know anything! ..." (Socrates)

PeroK
WWGD
Gold Member
"I only know one thing: that I don't know anything! ..." (Socrates)
I heard in Greece an ignorant person is someone who does not even know they know nothing. True? EDIT: Deleted nonsense.

I heard in Greece an ignorant person is someone who does not even know they know nothing. True? :).
Is that also based on Socrates's view?
(I think so - same concept)

WWGD
Gold Member
Is that also based on Socrates's view?
(I think so - same concept)
Yes, but it is just my perspective, so please don't take too seriously :).

Yes, but it is just my perspective, so please don't take too seriously :).
I don't

Here is another question (based on your joke earlier above etc.):
Which one is better? Knowing everything about nothing or knowing nothing about everything?
(Or is it the same thing?)

Myself, I only know Socrates knows nothing :).
But how can you be sure? (e.g. he could have being lieing ...) [jk / epistemological questions ...]

Relevant to Socrates's view:
"The more I learn ... the less I know! ..." (perhaps compared to what I then know I should learn ...)

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WWGD
Gold Member
I don't

Here is another question (based on your joke earlier above etc.):
Which one is better? Knowing everything about nothing or knowing nothing about everything?
(Or is it the same thing?)
Ah, quantification tricks:). If I understood correctly, the first may allow you to build up to the second. So, yes, the first.

WWGD
Gold Member
But how can you be sure? (e.g. he could have being lieing ...) [jk / epistemological questions ...]

Relevant to Socrates's view:
"The more I learn ... the less I know! ..." (perhaps compared to what I then know I should learn ...)
I assume he may have meant that more knowledge becomes harder to integrate and make sense of, while isolated pieces seem more manageable. But this is little more than speculation; best I can make sense of.

Stavros Kiri
I totally agree to what Borek said. But also, at least as I see it, you essentially describe two extremes that simply cannot exist, at least in Science. The expert side is not achieved in a "vacuum"; it presupposes a lot of interconnected / correlated things, that have been acquired through spending time and efforts. If you also take into account the current trends, in order to be competitive, you have to become something of an expert in more than one fields of study, so the interconnected / correlated things increase in a non linear fashion. The other extreme - as you describe it, reminds me of philosophy as there is - at least to my knowledge, no master of all sciences.

Also, the premise of something being "admired" in my opinion, should not be the deciding factor for anything and "useful" is something that has to be further clarified regarding whom it refers to - you or society with both being the golden ratio.
I will explain the scenario clearly, consider a physician who is a damn expert in cardiology, but has very meager knowledge about other things(society,politics,social awareness etc.), whereas a simple worker like plumber, who has sound knowledge and awareness about his surroundings and society, who will be considered as a knowledgeable person? As from general society's perspective, the cardiologist will be admired as a genius because he is much more useful to society than plumber?

QuantumQuest
Gold Member
I will explain the scenario clearly, consider a physician who is a damn expert in cardiology, but has very meager knowledge about other things(society,politics,social awareness etc.), whereas a simple worker like plumber, who has sound knowledge and awareness about his surroundings and society, who will be considered as a knowledgeable person? As from general society's perspective, the cardiologist will be admired as a genius because he is much more useful to society than plumber?
As I see it, this is an example that it somewhat touches again the extreme. I see no reason for a physician to not be sociable or politically and socially aware while being an expert in cardiology. He / She put hard efforts to get this knowledge / expertise but again not in a vacuum. On the other hand, I see no reason for the plumber to be extremely sociable and/or socially and/or politically aware etc. But let's just stick to the example as it is.

In order to answer the question "who will be considered as a knowledgeable person" we must first define what do we mean by the word knowledge. Although this definition is more or less common sense, it is a term that encompasses things at various levels so I'll take the definition from Oxford Dictionary - as I regard it as a credible source, in order to have a common base of understanding. According to the definitions, both physician and plumber have knowledge but of different kind. Now, I think that it is crystal clear that the answer to the question depends only on one factor: who considers it and consequently what are his / her standards / qualities regarding knowledge. And this has a lot of subjective factors that vary from person to person and most importantly pertain to the knowledge that each person has. But there is the objective factor of usefulness - regarding society, of different kinds of knowledge and clearly the physician is in the lead. He / She can save lives with the kind of knowledge he / she possesses - adding here the factor of expertise as well, while plumber cannot, at least in an apparent, direct way regarding social and/or political expertise etc.. But the gist here is that in order to acquire special knowledge that can be crucially useful, you have to put hard efforts but most importantly like strongly what you do. To be more specific, I don't think that there is a single successful cardiologist out there that put such hard efforts, just to be considered as knowledgeable.

For the second question
As from general society's perspective, the cardiologist will be admired as a genius because he is much more useful to society than plumber?
my opinion lies partly in what I wrote above but I'll add that considering someone as genius or not, is once again a strongly person-oriented matter. There are objectively genius persons according to specific qualities but even this is not free from subjectivity in many cases. But in the general case the term genius may mean many things to many people. So, my answer is again that the physician will be more admirable, more useful and rightly so, given the hard efforts he / she put. But again, for me, more useful is what matters most.

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quantknight
Borek
Mentor
Generally speaking your chances of realizing how important is a good plumber are much higher than realizing how important is a good cardiologist. Just saying.

Nidum and QuantumQuest
WWGD
Gold Member
One can reasonably claim plumbers have saved more lives than doctors.

One can reasonably claim plumbers have saved more lives than doctors.
They get paid more too! (+they're harder to get - you wait forever ...)

Mark44
Mentor
One day, Fred noticed that the faucet in his kitchen sink was leaking, so he called a plumber to come fix his faucet.

When Joe the plumber arrived, he inspected the scene, and began taking the faucet apart. After about 20 minutes, the plumber replaced a couple of faucet washers, and put the faucet back together. Joe then presented his bill to Fred.

Fred: "What, $2000 for less than a half hour of work!!! That's outrageous! I'm a medical doctor, and even I don't make that much money!" Joe replied, "Yeah, I didn't either when I was a doctor, so I took up plumbing." QuantumQuest and Stavros Kiri One day, Fred noticed that the faucet in his kitchen sink was leaking, so he called a plumber to come fix his faucet. When Joe the plumber arrived, he inspected the scene, and began taking the faucet apart. After about 20 minutes, the plumber replaced a couple of faucet washers, and put the faucet back together. Joe then presented his bill to Fred. Fred: "What,$2000 for less than a half hour of work!!! That's outrageous! I'm a medical doctor, and even I don't make that much money!"

Joe replied, "Yeah, I didn't either when I was a doctor, so I took up plumbing."
That's what I had in mind too! (Same joke!)

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WWGD