Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Being Erudite

How significant is being erudite? Consider this quote from The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb writing about Pierre-Daniel Huet, a Catholic bishop and member of the French Academy, and Pierre Bayle, a Protestant theologian and philosopher:

"Both Huet and Bayle were erudites and spent their lives reading. Huet who lived into his nineties, had a servant follow him with a book to read aloud to him during meals and breaks and thus avoid lost time. He was deemed the most read person in his day. Let me insist that erudition is important to me. It signals genuine intellectual curiosity. It accompanies an open mind and the desire to probe the ideas of others. Above ll, an erudite can be dissatisfied with his own knowledge, and such dissatisfaction is a wonderful shield against Platonicity, the simplifications of the five manager, or the philistinism of the overspecialized scholar. Indeed scholarship without erudition can lead to disasters."

What are your thoughts on erudition and practicality in the world of work?

4 comments:

Mike Wagner said...

The last professional service firm I worked for did not value my interest in reading, exposure to new ideas and communicating them to clients.

They took a light-hearted view of thought leadership and politely respected my hunger to read, learn and reconsider what we were doing as a firm.

I don't work there any more. And in part that is why.

Fascinating quote --- thanks for offering it up.

Keep creating,
Mike

judith ellis said...

Mike, Thanks for your story. It is believed in business that ideas alone do not lead to results. True. But without ideas, needless to say, we are assured that there will be no results, at least results that will make a difference.

If you have not read The Black Swan, it is a great read. If you like ideas and the intersection of business, politics, philosophy, and history, and how they are quite applicable to results, you will love this book.

Thanks for dropping by and for the words of encouragement. Do drop by again.

Mike Wagner said...

Thanks for recommending The Black Swan --- it sounds like a great read.

I'm a historian by training and desire so a book that brings so many disciplines together at once is very intriguing.

Have a rollicking good day...and keep creating,

Mike

judith ellis said...

Mike, Oh, fantastic! A trained historian, eh? Great! You're gonna love Taleb. He's a great scholar and writer who has considerable experience in business.

Also, there is a discussion going on at tompeters.com regarding history, among other things, that you might like to jump in on. I'd be interested to hear your perspective there too.

The idea of non-stop creating is great! I might also add that some might think that such an idea for a trained historian may be far fetched. I love it!

And...a super day to you too!