Polymath


Polymath

A polymath (Greek "polymathēs", πολυμαθής, "having learned much")The term was first recorded in written English in the early seventeenth century Cite web
url=http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=polymath&searchmode=none
title=Online Etymology Dictionary
accessdate=2006-12-05
year=2001
author=Harper, Daniel
] is a person whose knowledge is not restricted to one subject area. The dictionary definition is consistent with informal use, whereby someone very knowledgeable is described as a polymath when the term is used as a noun, or polymath or polymathic when used as adjectives.

The terms Renaissance Man and (less commonly) "Homo Universalis" (which is Latin for "a universal man" or "man of the world") are related, and used to describe a person who is well educated, or who excels, in a wide variety of subjects or fields. [ [http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?refid=1861738117 Encarta dictionary] ] This idea developed in Renaissance Italy from the notion expressed by one of its most accomplished representatives, Leon Battista Alberti (1404–72): that “a man can do all things if he will”. It embodied the basic tenets of Renaissance Humanism, which considered man the centre of the universe, limitless in his capacities for development, and led to the notion that men should try to embrace all knowledge and develop their own capacities as fully as possible. Thus the gifted men of the Renaissance sought to develop skills in all areas of knowledge, in physical development, in social accomplishments, and in the arts.

Related terms

A different name for the secondary meaning of polymath is Renaissance Man (a term first recorded in written English in the early twentieth century).Cite web|url=http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=Renaissance+man&searchmode=phrase|title=Online Etymology Dictionary|accessdate=2006-12-05|year=2001|author=Harper, Daniel] Other similar terms also in use are Homo universalis and Uomo Universale, which in Latin and Italian, respectively, translate as "universal person" or "universal man". These expressions derived from the ideal in Renaissance Humanism that it was possible to acquire a universal learning [http://lookwayup.com/lwu.exe/lwu/d?s=f&w=Renaissance%20man Renaissance man (definition) ] ] in order to develop one's potential, (covering both the arts and the sciences [ [http://www.bartleby.com/61/95/R0149500.html Renaissance man. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000 ] ] and without necessarily restricting this learningto the academic fields). This was possible largely because the collective knowledge of humanity was far smaller back then than it is today . When someone is called a Renaissance Man today, it is meant that he does not just have broad interests or a superficial knowledge of several fields, but rather that his knowledge is profound, and often that he also has proficiency or accomplishments [ [http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?refid=1861700404 Encarta dictionary] ] in (at least some of) these fields, and in some cases even at a level comparable to the proficiency or the accomplishments of an expert. [ [http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=Renaissance+man va=Renaissance man - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary ] ] The related termGeneralist is used to contrast this general approach to knowledge to that of the specialist. (The expression Renaissance man today commonly implies only intellectual or scholastic proficiency and knowledge and not necessarily the more universal sense of "learning" implied by the Renaissance Humanism). It is to note, however, that some dictionaries use the term Renaissance man as roughly synonymous with polymath in the first meaning, to describe someone versatile with many interests or talents, [ [http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/orexxnaissanceman?view=uk Oxford concise dictionary] ] while others recognize a meaning which is restricted to the Renaissance era and more closely related to the Renaissance ideals.

The term Universal Genius is also used, taking Leonardo da Vinci as a prime example again. The term seems to be used especially when a Renaissance man has made historical or lasting contributions in at least one of the fields in which he was actively involved and when he had a universality of approach. Despite the existence of this term, a polymath may not necessarily be classed as a genius; and certainly a genius may not display the breadth of knowledge to qualify as a polymath. Albert Einstein and Marie Curie are examples of people widely viewed as geniuses, but who are not generally considered to be polymaths.

Renaissance ideal

Many notable polymaths lived during the Renaissance period, a cultural movement that spanned roughly the fourteenth through the seventeenth century, beginning in Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. They had a rounded approach to education which was typical of the ideals of the humanists of the time. A gentleman or courtier of that era was expected to speak several languages, play a musical instrument, write poetry, and so on, thus fulfilling the Renaissance ideal. During the Renaissance, Baldassare Castiglione, in his "The Book of the Courtier", wrote a guide to being a polymath.

The Renaissance Ideal differed slightly from the "Polymath" in that it involved more than just intellectual advancement. Historically (roughly 14501600) it represented a person who endeavored to "develop his capacities as fully as possible" ("Britannica", "Renaissance Man") both mentally and physically. Being an accomplished athlete was considered integral and not separate from education and learning of the highest order. Example: Leon Battista Alberti, who was an architect, painter, poet, scientist, mathematician, inventor, sculptor, and also a skilled horseman and archer.

A prerequisite of a modern day Renaissance Man, is one in which who exceeds in studies. It is taken as a given that they shall pass secondary education.

Partial list of polymaths

The following list provides examples of notable polymaths (in the secondary meaning only, that is, Renaissance men). Caution is necessary when interpreting the word polymath (in the second meaning or any of its synonyms) in a source, since there's always ambiguity of what the word denotes. Also, when a list of subjects in relation to the polymath is given, such lists often seem to imply that the notable polymath was reputable in all fields, but the most common case is that the polymath made his reputation in one or two main fields where he had widely recognized achievements, and that he was merely proficient or actively involved in other fields, but, once again, not necessarily with achievements comparable to those of renowned experts of his time in these fields. The list does not attempt to be comprehensive or authoritative in any way. The list also includes the "Hakeem" of the Islamic Golden Age (also known as the "Islamic Renaissance"), who are considered equivalent to the Renaissance Men of the European Renaissance era.

The following people represent prime examples of "Renaissance Men" and "universal geniuses", so to say "polymaths" in the strictest interpretation of the secondary meaning of the word.

*Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī (973–1048), a Persian scientist, physicist, anthropologist, astronomer, astrologer, encyclopedist, geodesist, geographer, geologist, historian, mathematician, natural historian, pharmacist, physician, philosopher, scholar, teacher, Ash'ari theologian, and traveller; "al-Biruni was a polymath and traveler (to India) who introduced Indian scientific knowledge & thought to the middle-east & the west, making contributions in mathematics, geography and geology, natural history, calendars and astronomy"; [Paul Murdin (2000). "al-Biruni, Abu Raihan (973–1048)", "Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics", Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol.] "al-Biruni, a scholar in many disciplines - from linguistics to mineralogy - and perhaps medieval Uzbekistan's most universal genius." [Mr Koïchiro Matsuura. [http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001206/120699E.pdf United Nations: Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] , UNESCO.]

*Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543); among the great polymaths of the Renaissance, Copernicus was a mathematician, astronomer, physician, classical scholar, translator, Catholic cleric, jurist, governor, military leader, diplomat and economist. Amid his extensive responsibilities, astronomy figured as little more than an avocation — yet it was in that field that he made his mark upon the world.

*Abbas Ibn Firnas (Armen Firman) (810–887), an Andalusian Berber aviator, inventor, engineer, technologist, chemist, humanitarian, musician, physician and poet; "Ibn Firnas was a polymath: a physician, a rather bad poet, the first to make glass from stones (quartz?), a student of music, and inventor of some sort of metronome"; [Lynn Townsend White, Jr. (Spring, 1961). "Eilmer of Malmesbury, an Eleventh Century Aviator: A Case Study of Technological Innovation, Its Context and Tradition", "Technology and Culture" 2 (2), p. 97-111 [100-101] .] "had he lived in the Florence of the Medici, [Abbas ibn Firnas] would have been a “Renaissance man”." [Paul Lunde, [http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/200407/science.in.al-andalus-.compilation..htm Science in Al-Andalus] , "Saudi Aramco World", July 2004, pp. 20-27.]

*Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), "Italian scientist, physicist, and philosopher. Galileo was a true Renaissance man, excelling at many different endeavors, including lute playing and painting." [Eric W. Weisstein, [http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Galileo.html Galileo Galilei (1564–1642)] ]

*Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) "Germany's greatest man of letters—poet, critic, playwright, and novelist—and the last true polymath to walk the earth" [cite book|title=Middlemarch|first=George|last=Eliot|origyear=1871|year=2004|publisher=Broadview Press|id=ISBN |editor=Gregory Maertz (ed.) Note by editor of 2004 edition, Gregory Maertz, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1551112337&id=4MopnRJ-HmMC&pg=PA710&lpg=PA710&sig=4nAO63zmLS9Ua-x0mevpZA7kSIY p. 710] ] "Goethe comes as close to deserving the title of a universal genius as any man who has ever lived". [ [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0451528417&id=qoNDakvwmWsC&pg=PA299&lpg=PA299&dq=Goethe+%22universal+genius%22&sig=rHKvBf4tXHq5oxQT3JR2j0U7viY Google books] ] "He was essentially the last great European Renaissance man." [ [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1740594711&id=38pxvHefrL0C&pg=PA213&lpg=PA213&dq=%22renaissance+man%22+Goethe&sig=O6eNSbYLxqLaBiQ4jnHfDJwhNU0 Google books] ] His gifts included incalculable contributions to the areas of German literature and the natural sciences. He is credited with discovery of a bone in the human jaw, and proposed a theory of colors. He has a mineral named in his honor, goethite. He molded the aesthetic properties of the Alps to poetry, thus, changing the local belief from "perfectly hideous" and an "unavoidable misery," to grandeur of the finest most brilliant creation.

*Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) (965–1039), an Iraqi Arab scientist, physicist, anatomist, physician, psychologist, astronomer, engineer inventor, mathematician, ophthalmologist, philosopher, and Ash'ari theologian; "a devout, brilliant polymath"; [ [http://www.ibnalhaytham.net/custom.em?pid=571860 Review of "Ibn al-Haytham: First Scientist"] , Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2006.] "a great man and a universal genius, long neglected even by his own people"; [Sami Hamarneh (March 1972). Review of Hakim Mohammed Said, "Ibn al-Haitham", "Isis" 63 (1), p. 118–119.] "Ibn al-Haytham provides us with the historical personage of a versatile universal genius." [Laurence Bettany (1995). "Ibn al-Haytham: an answer to multicultural science teaching?", "Physics Education" 30, p. 247–252.]

*Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). Jefferson, the third President of the United States, was "the walking, talking embodiment of the Enlightenment, a polymath whose list of achievements is as long as it is incredibly varied." [cite book|author=Cormac O'Brien|title=Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents: What Your Teachers Never Told You|id=ISBN 1931686572|year=2004|publisher=Quirk Books, p. 15] . At a dinner honoring Nobel laureates, John F. Kennedy famously said "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together in the White House—with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." [cite book|title=Popular Images of American Presidents|author=William C. Spragens|year=1988|publisher=Greenwood Publishing Group|id=ISBN 031322899X, p. 27]

*Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406), an Arab social scientist, sociologist, historian, historiographer, philosopher of history, demographer, economist, linguist, philosopher, political theorist, military theorist, Islamic scholar, Ash'ari theologian, diplomat and statesman; "a still-influential polymath"; [Liat Radcliffe, "Newsweek" (cf. [http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/maroc/himmich1.htm The Polymath by Bensalem Himmich] , The Complete Review).] "in any epoch ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) would deserve the accolade Renaissance man, a person of many talents and diverse interests." [Marvin E. Gettleman and Stuart Schaar (2003), "The Middle East and Islamic World Reader", p. 54, Grove Press, ISBN 0802139361.]

*Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716); "Leibniz was a polymath who made significant contributions in many areas of physics, logic, mathematics, history, librarianship, and of course philosophy and theology, while also working on ideal languages, mechanical clocks, mining machinery..." [cite book|title=Central Works of Philosophy, Volume 2: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century|first=John|last=Shand|year=2005|id=ISBN|publisher=McGill-Queen's Press, ch. 3, "G. W. Leibnitz: Monadology," by Douglas Burnham; [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0773530185&id=uslzupLyFt4C&pg=PA61&lpg=PA61&sig=eu8T4DjvDVAcggW68Qv6Oc_6fuU p. 61] ] "A universal genius if ever there was one, and an inexhaustible source of original and fertile ideas, Leibniz was all the more interested in logic because it ..." [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN3540225250&id=IL-SI67hjI4C&pg=PA301&lpg=PA301&dq=Leibniz+%22universal+genius%22&sig=SlqKmspxWH6XLbuiy014aCYcCuY Google books] ] "Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was maybe the last Universal Genius incessantly active in the fields of theology, philosophy, mathematics, physics, ...." "Leibniz was perhaps the last great Renaissance man who in Bacon's words took all knowledge to be his province." [ [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0415283388&id=Lf_14LCC8mcC&pg=PA14&lpg=PA14&dq=%22renaissance+man%22+Leibniz&sig=0dYnbMJ0H6tpKdIVvx6WjakhfZ8 Google books] ]

*Isaac Newton (1643–1727) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, theologian, natural philosopher and alchemist. His treatise "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica", published in 1687, described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, laying the groundwork for classical mechanics, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries and is the basis for modern engineering. In a 2005 poll of the Royal Society of who had the greatest effect on the history of science, Newton was deemed more influential than Albert Einstein. [cite web |title=Newton beats Einstein in polls of scientists and the public |work=The Royal Society |url=http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/news.asp?id=3880 |accessdate=2006-10-25] "When we see Newton as a late Renaissance man, his particular addiction to classical geometry as ancient wisdom and the most reliable way of unveiling the secrets of nature, seems natural." [Alan Cook (2000), Review of Niccolo Guicciardini, "Reading the Principia; The Debate on Newton's Mathematical Methods for Natural Philosophy from 1687 to 1736", "Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London" 54 (1), p. 109–113.]

*Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (1126–1198), an Andalusian Arab philosopher, doctor, physician, jurist, lawyer, astronomer, mathematician, and theologian; "Ibn-Rushd, a polymath also known as Averroes"; [ [http://go.webassistant.com/wa/cont_pub_view_item.lhtml?-Token.Id=23316&-Token.cId=100427&-Nothing Top 100 Events of the Millennium] , "Life magazine".] "Doctor, Philosopher, Renaissance Man." [Caroline Stone, "Doctor, Philosopher, Renaissance Man", "Saudi Aramco World", May-June 2003, p. 8–15.]

*Abū Alī ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) (980–1037), a Persian physician, pharmacologist, philosopher, metaphysician, aromatherapist, astronomer, chemist, Hanafi jurist and theologian, physicist, scientist, and universalist; "The Persian polymath-physician Avicenna"; [Richard Covington, "Rediscovering Arabic Science", "Saudi Aramco World", May/June 2007.] "Avicenna (973–1037) was a sort of universal genius, known first as a physician. To his works on medicine he afterward added religious tracts, poems, works on philosophy, on logic, as physics, on mathematics, and on astronomy. He was also a statesman and a soldier." [Charles F. Horne (1917), ed., "The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia", pages 90–91. Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, New York. (cf. [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/1020Avicenna-Medicine.html Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (973–1037): On Medicine, c. 1020 CE] , Medieval Sourcebook.)]

*Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) [cite book|title=The Renaissance in Europe: An Anthology|first=Peter|last=Elmer|coauthors=Nicholas Webb, Roberta Wood|publisher=Yale University Press|year=2000|id=ISBN "The following selection... shows why this famous Renaissance polymath considered painting to be a science..."] [ [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0300082223&id=EjxaFzRO4lAC&pg=PA180&lpg=PA180&sig=SxLNAzJ-sgNJZKozR40uisBYzCk p. 180] ] "In Leonardo Da Vinci, of course, he had as his subject not just an ordinary Italian painter, but the prototype of the universal genius, the 'Renaissance man,' ..."; "prodigious polymath.... Painter, sculptor, engineer, astronomer, anatomist, biologist, geologist, physicist, architect, philosopher, actor, singer, musician, humanist." [cite book|title=Life Is Not Work, Work Is Not Life: Simple Reminders for Finding Balance in a 24-7 World|first=Robert K.|last= Johnston|coauthors= J Walker Smith|publisher=Council Oak Books|year=2003|id=ISBN [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1885171544&id=qfC90Szju3cC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&sig=h1ZO-X1ZKHCfIGFSMJucORZY-kY p. 1] ]

Renaissance ideal today

During the Renaissance, the ideal of Renaissance humanism included the acquisition of almost all available important knowledge. At that time, several universal geniuses seem to have come close to that ideal, with actual achievements in multiple fields. With the passage of time however, "universal learning" has begun to appear ever more self-contradictory. For example, a famous dispute between "Jacob Burckhardt (whose "Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien" of 1860 established Alberti as the prototype of the Renaissance Man) and Julius von Schlosser (whose "Die Kunstliteratur" of 1924 expresses discontent with Burckhardt's assessments on several counts)" deals with the issue of whether Alberti was indeed a or an actual Universal Man; [ [http://muse.jhu.edu/cgi-bin/access.cgi?uri=/journals/common_knowledge/v010/10.2andersen.html Muse.jhu] ] while an 1863 article about rhetoric said, for instance: "an universal genius is not likely to attain to distinction and to eminence inany thing ["sic"] . To achieve her best results, and to produce her most matured fruit, Genius must bend all her energies in one direction; strive for one object; keep her brain and hand upon one desired purpose and aim". [ [http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC01768790&id=lNkRAAAAIAAJ&pg=PP12&dq=%22universal+genius+is%22#PRA4-PA262,M1 Google books] ]

Since it is considered extremely difficult to genuinely acquire an encyclopaedic knowledge, and even more to be proficient in several fields at the level of an expert (see expertise about research in this area), not to mention to achieve excellence or recognition in multiple fields, the word polymath, in both senses, may also be used, often ironically, with a potentially negative connotation as well. Under this connotation, by sacrificing depth for breadth, the polymath becomes a "jack of all trades, master of none". For many specialists, in the context of today's hyperspecialization, the ideal of a Renaissance man is judged to be an anachronism, since it is not uncommon that a specialist can barely dominate the accumulated knowledge of more than just one restricted subfield in his whole life, and many renowned experts have been made famous only for dominating different subfields or traditions or for being able to integrate the knowledge of different subfields or traditions.

In addition, today, expertise is often associated with documents, certifications, diplomas, and degrees attributing to such, and a person who seems to have an abundance of these is often perceived as having more education than practical "working" experience. Autodidactic polymaths often combine didactic education and expertise in multiple fields with autodidactic research and experience to create the Renaissance ideal.

Many fields of interest take years of singleminded devotion to achieve expertise, often requiring starting at an early age. Also, many require cultural familiarity that may be inaccessible to someone not born and raised in that culture. In many such cases, it is realistically possible to achieve only knowledge of theory if not practical experience. For example, on a safari, a jungle native will be a more effective guide than an American scientist who may be educated in the theories of jungle survival but did not grow up acquiring his knowledge the hard way.

However, those supporting the ideal of the Renaissance man today would say that the specialist's understanding of the interrelation of knowledge from different fields is too narrow and that a synthetic comprehension of different fields is unavailable to him, or, if they embrace the Renaissance ideal even more deeply, that the human development of the specialist is truncated by the narrowness of his view. What is much more common today than the universal approach to knowledge from a single polymath, is the multidisciplinary approach to knowledge which derives from several experts in different fields.

Polymath and polyhistor compared

Many dictionaries of word origins list these words as synonyms or, as words with very similar meanings. Thomas Moore took the words as corresponding to similarly erudite "polys" in one of his poems "Off I fly, careering far/ In chase of Pollys, prettier far/ Than any of their namesakes are, / —The Polymaths and Polyhistors, Polyglots and all their sisters." [ [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/8187 The Complete Poems of Sir Thomas Moore by Thomas Moore - Project Gutenberg ] ]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the words mean practically the same; "the classical Latin word polyhistor was used exclusively, and the Greek word frequently, of Alexander Polyhistor", but polymathist appeared later, and then polymath. Thus today, regardless of any differentiation they may have had when originally coined, they are often taken to mean the same thing.

The root terms "histor" and "math" have similar meanings in their etymological antecedents (to learn, learned, knowledge), though with some initial and added differing qualities. Innate in "historíā" (Greek and Latin) is that the learning takes place via inquiry and narrative. "Hístōr" also implies that the polyhistor displays erudition and wisdom. From Proto-Indo-European it shares a root with the word "wit". Inquiry and narrative are specific sets of pedagogical and research heuristics.

Polyhistoric is the corresponding adjective. The word polyhistory (meaning varied learning), when used, is often derogatory.

List of recognized polymaths

The following people have been described as "polymaths" by several reliable sources—fulfilling the primary definition of the term—although there may not be expert consensus that each is a "prime example" in the "secondary" meaning, as "renaissance men" and "universal geniuses" (see Some "Renaissance Men" above for prime examples of "renaissance men" or "universal geniuses").

*Imhotep (fl. 2650–2611 BC); [Citation|title=A Mentoring Model for Enhancing Success in Graduate Education|last=Wilhelmina Wright-Harp|first=Patricia A. Cole|journal=Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders|volume=35|pages=4–16 [4] |date=Spring 2008] [Citation|title=Romancing the Chiasm: Vision, Vocalization, and Virtuosity|journal=Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology|volume=28|issue=2|pages=131-43|date=June 2008|last=Glaser|first=Joel S.] Egyptian chancellor, physician, and architect; "Imhotep, circa 2650 BCE (who was revered as being at least semi-divine until the Late Period, although some of this reverence may be due to his status as physician and all-round polymath)." [ [http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Article/436803 The Egyptian Building Mania] , "Acta Divrna", Vol. III, Issue IV, January, 2004.]

*Aristotle (384–322 BC); ["He was a remarkable polymath. He made major contributions to logic, metaphysics, the natural sciences (above all biology), psychology, ethics, literary criticism..");cite book|title=The Infinite|first = A. W.|last=Moore|publisher=Routledge|year=2001|id=ISBN [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0415252857&id=Vnm6X_g0pc8C&pg=PA34&lpg=PA34&sig=v7uy0RAX2SGKvXG8R5jsG8suw98 p. 34] ] "Aristotle was an extraordinary polymath..." [cite book|title=A Brief History Of Citizenship|first=Derek|last=Heater|year=2004|publisher=New York University Press|id=ISBN , "Aristotle was an extraordinary polymath, although only two of his great range of works, which were probably in origin lectures, interest us here." [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0814736726&id=c-falFSTRQwC&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&sig=_nR6soRWgfnkVgha_VDwD8H0OAw p. 16] ]

*Zhang Heng (78-139); a Han Dynasty Chinese official, scholar of history and philosophy, poet, mathematician, astronomer, inventor, geographer, cartographer, painter, and sculptor who invented the world's first water-powered armillary sphere and the world's first seismometer to detect the cardinal direction of distant earthquakes; he is often described as a polymath. [Mair, Victor H. (2001). The Columbia History of Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231109849. Page 251.] [Yan, Hong-sen. (2007). Reconstruction Designs of Lost Ancient Chinese Machinery. Dordrecht: Springer. ISBN 1402064594. Page 127.] [Dillon, Michael. (1998). China: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary. Surrey: Routledge Curzon Press. ISBN 0700704396. Page 378.] [Krebs, Robert E. (2003). The Basics of Earth Science. Westport: Greenwood Press of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. ISBN 0313319308. Page 31.]

*Geber (Jabir ibn Hayyan) (721–815); [Citation|title=Islamic Perspectives on Science: Knowledge and Responsibility|first=Ali|last=Unal|publisher=Tughra Books|year=2007|isbn=1597840696|page=8] [Citation|title=The No-nonsense Guide to Islam|last=Ziauddin Sardar|first=Merryl Wyn Davies|publisher=Verso Books|year=2004|isbn=1859844545|page=87] an Arab Muslim chemist, alchemist, astrologer, astronomer, engineer, pharmacist, physician, philosopher, physicist and scientist; "Jābir was a polymath who wrote 300 books on philosophy, 1,300 books on mechanical devices and military machinery, and hundreds of books on alchemy." [ [http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/arabic/bioJ.html Bio-Bibliographies] , United States National Library of Medicine.]

*Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī (Algoritmi) (780-850); [Citation|title=A Pioneer Arabic Encyclopedia of the Sciences: Al Khwarizmi's Keys of the Sciences|first=C. E.|last=Bosworth|journal=Isis|volume=54|issue=1|date=March 1963|pages=97-111 [111] ] [Citation|title=The Pursuit Of Learning In The Islamic World, 610-2003|first=Hunt|last=Janin|year=2005|isbn=0786419547|publisher=McFarland|page=54] [Citation|title=Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities|last=Lawrence S. Cunningham|first=John J. Reich|year=2005|isbn=0534582273|publisher=Thomson Wadsworth|page=190] a Persian mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, Earth scientist, Islamic scholar, and geographer.Karima Alavi, [http://ccas.georgetown.edu/files/CCAS_Tapestry_of_Travel_lores.pdf Tapestry of Travel] , Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University.]

*Al-Jahiz (781-869); [Citation|title=Al-Kindi|first=Peter|last=Adamson|publisher=Oxford University Press|year=2006|isbn=0195181425|page=17] an East African Arab scholar and Arabic prose writer of works on Arabic literature, history, biology, zoology, Mu'tazili philosophy and theology, and politico-religious polemics.citation|last=Ziauddin Sardar|contribution=Science in Islamic philosophy|title=Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy|editor-last=Edward Craig|publisher=Routledge|year=1998|isbn=0415073103|volume=8|pages=561-5|url=http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ip/rep/H016.htm|accessdate=2008-10-02]

*Al-Kindi (Alkindus) (801–873); [Citation|title=Quantum Communications and Cryptography|first=Alexander V.|last=Sergienko|publisher=CRC Press|year=2006|isbn=0849336848|page=3] Citation|title=The No-nonsense Guide to Islam|last=Ziauddin Sardar|first=Merryl Wyn Davies|publisher=Verso Books|year=2004|isbn=1859844545|pages=87-8] an Arab astronomer, geographer, mathematician, meteorologist, musician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, and politician; "he (Al-Kindî) was an omnivorous polymath, studying everything, writing 265 treatises about everything—arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, meteorology, geography, physics, politics, music, medicine, philosophy." [Will Durant (cf. [http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=650 Innovations in Islamic Sciences] , Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation)]

*Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi (Rhazes) (865-925); [Citation|title=Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction|first=Howard R.|last=Turner|publisher=University of Texas Press|year=1997|isbn=0292781490|page=135] a Persian physician, alchemist, chemist, philosopher and scholar.

*Al-Farabi (Alfarabi) (870–950/951); a Turkic [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9033714/al-Farabi Encyclopædia Britannica Article on al-Farabi] ] or Persian [ [http://users.ox.ac.uk/~worc0337/authors/al-farabi.html Philosophers: al-Fārābi] ] Muslim who was known as "The second teacher" because he had great influence on science and philosophy for several centuries, and was widely regarded to be second only to Aristotle in knowledge in his time. Farabi made notable contributions to the fields of mathematics, philosophy, medicine, physics, language,theater and music. As a philosopher and Neo-Platonist, he wrote rich commentary on Aristotle's work. He is also credited for categorizing logic into two separate groups, the first being "idea" and the second being "proof." Farabi wrote books on sociology and a notable book on music titled "Kitab al-Musiqa" (The Book of Music). He played and invented a varied number of musical instruments and his pure Arabian tone system is still used in Arabic music. [ [http://www.islamonline.net/english/Science/2002/01/article20.shtml Abu Al-Nasr Al-Farabi: The Second Teacher] ]

*Abu al-Hasan 'Alī al-Mas'ūdī (896-956); [Citation|title=The Importance of Imported Aromatics in Arabic Culture: Illustrations from Pre-Islamic and Early Islamic Poetry|first=Anya|last=King|journal=Journal of Near Eastern Studies|volume=67|issue=3|year=2008|publisher=University of Chicago Press|pages=175–89: quote|"the polymath historian al-Masşudi"] an Arab historian, Earth scientist, Islamic scholar, geographer, geologist, and traveller.

*Abhinavagupta (fl. 975–1025); an Indian philosopher, literary critic, Shaivite, aesthetist, musician, poet, dramatist, dancer, exegetical theologian, and logician; "the great Kashmiri philosopher and polymath, Abhinavagupta".Hiram Woodward (2004), "Review of "Indian esoteric Buddhism: A social history of the Tantric movement" by Ronald M. Davidson", "Journal of Southeast Asian Studies" 35: 329–54]

*Shen Kuo (1031–1095); a Chinese scientist, statesman, mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, agronomist, ethnographer, encyclopedist, poet, general, diplomat, hydraulic engineer, inventor, academy chancellor, finance minister, and inspector; "Chinese polymath and astronomer who studied medicine, but became renown for his engineering ability." [http://www.bookrags.com/research/shen-kua-scit-021234 Shen Kua] , "Science and Its Times", Thomson Gale.]

*Omar Khayyám (1048–1131); [Citation|title=Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction|first=Howard R.|last=Turner|publisher=University of Texas Press|year=1997|isbn=0292781490|page=53] a Persian poet, writer, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, and skeptic. ["a...polymath". [http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_direct_link.cfm?blog_id=7461 Omar Khyam] , The Iconoclast, "New English Review", 1 May 2007]

*Ibn Bajjah (Avempace) (died 1138); an Andalusian Arab astronomer, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, and poet.

*Acharya Hemachandra (1089–1172); an Indian scholar, poet, linguist, grammarian, historian, philosopher, and prosodist; "the great polymath Hemacandra"; [Walter H. Maurer (1971). Review of "Pramana-Naya-Tattvalokalamkara of Vadi Devasuri by Hari Satya Bhattacharya by Hari Satya Bhattacharya, "Philosophy East and West" 21 (1) p. 98–99.] "Hemacandra (1089–1172) was one of the great polymaths of medieval India." [John E. Cort (November 1999). Review of Hemacandra, R. C. C. Fynes, "The Lives of the Jain Elders", "The Journal of Asian Studies" 58 (4), p. 1166–1167.]

*Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) (1091-1161); an Andalusian Arab physician, pharmacist, surgeon, Islamic scholar, and teacher.

* Muhammad al-Idrisi (Dreses) (1100-1166); a Moroccan Arab cartographer, court official, Earth scientist, geographer and traveller.

* Ibn Tufail (Abubacer) (1105-1185); an Andalusian Arab "polymath scholar", [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9011411/Avempace Avempace] , "Encyclopædia Britannica", 2007] Islamic philosopher, physician, Arabic writer, novelist, and court official.

*Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī (Tusi) (1201–1274); [Citation|title=Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature|last=Norman Calder, Jawid Ahmad Mojaddedi|first=Andrew Rippin|publisher=Routledge|year=2003|isbn=0415240336|page=166: quote|"Theremarkable thirteenth-century polymath Nasir al-Din al-Tusi"] [Citation|title=Morals and Society in Asian Philosophy|first=Brian|last=Carr|publisher=Routledge|year=1996|isbn=0700703454|page=9] a Persian Muslim, was one of the greatest scientists, philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, theologians and physicians of the thirteenth century; [ [http://www.islamonline.com/news/newsfull.php?newid=996 Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi] ] "the ensemble of Tusi’s writings amounts to approximately 165 titles on a wide variety of subjects (astronomy, ethics, history, jurisprudence, logic, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, theology, poetry and the popular sciences)." [S. J. Badakhchani, [http://www.iep.utm.edu/t/tusi.htm Nasir al-Din Tusi (1201–1274)] , "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy".]

* Ibn al-Nafis (1213–1288); [Citation|title=Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature: K-Z|last=Julie Scott Meisami|first=Paul Starkey|publisher=Routledge|1998|isbn=0415185726: quote|"ibn al-Nafis was an important physician and polymath of the seventh/thirteenth century."] an Arab physician, anatomist, biologist, physiologist, surgeon, ophthalmologist, Ulema, Hafiz, Muhaddith, Shafi`i jurist and lawyer, Sunni theologian, philosopher, litterateur, logician, novelist, psychologist, scientist, science fiction writer, astronomer, cosmologist, futurist, geologist, grammarian, linguist, historian, philosopher of history, philosopher of religion, natural philosopher and sociologist; "Ibnul-Nafees was not only a great physician and discoverer of the minor blood circulation (pulmonary circulation), but he also had many interests, views and works about many other branches of knowledge." [Dr. Abu Shadi Al-Roubi, [http://www.islamset.com/isc/nafis/drroubi.html Ibnul-Nafees As a Philosopher] , "Encyclopedia of Islamic World".]

*Leone Battista AlbertiFact|date=September 2008 (1404–1472); "often considered the archetype of the Renaissance polymath" [cite book|title=The Cambridge History of Italian Literature|first=Peter|last=Brand|coauthors=Lino Pertile|year=1999|publisher=Cambridge University Press|id=ISBN "Leon Battista Alberti), more versatile than Bruni, is often considered the archetype of the Renaissance polymath." [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0521666228&id=3uq0bObScHMC&pg=PA138&lpg=PA138&sig=nwB1Gggq981himLrVnBBRuaqScQ p. 138] ]

*Suyuti (1445-1505); [Citation|title=Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature|last=Norman Calder, Jawid Ahmad Mojaddedi|first=Andrew Rippin|publisher=Routledge|year=2003|isbn=0415240336|page=83] an Egyptian Arab Islamic scholar, Sunni theologian, Shafi'i jurist, Arabic grammarian and linguist, historian, and Islamic philosopher.

*Akbar the Great (1542-1605); an Indian Mughal emperor, "polymath", architect, artisan, artist, armorer, blacksmith, carpenter, construction worker, engineer, general, inventor, lacemaker, ruler, technologist, theologian, and writer.Irfan Habib (1992), "Akbar and Technology", "Social Scientist" 20 (9-10): 3-15 [3-4] ]

*Matteo RicciFact|date=September 2008 (1552-1610); an Italian Jesuit and a phenomenal figure in the East-West scientific exchange in China. "Matteo Ricci was the perfect man of culture, a polymath versed in all things, mathematics and literature, philosophy and poetry, mechanics and astronomy." [Lacouture, Jean (1997). "Jesuits: A MultiBiography."Counterpoint. p.189. ISBN-10: 1887178600] In collaboration with Xu Guangqi, he was also the first to translate classic Confucian texts into Latin and classic Western texts into Chinese (including portions of Euclid's Elements).

*Xu Guangqi (1562-1633); a Chinese bureaucrat, agricultural scientist, astronomer, and mathematician in the Ming Dynasty, who also helped in the translation of several classic Western texts into Chinese, including part of Euclid's Elements. Xu has been described as "a fascinating polymath who spread his interests far and wide for a specific purpose: statecraft.""Scientists Fete China's Supreme Polymath," by Richard Stone. Science, 2 November 2007, page 733]

*Fathullah Shirazi (c. 1582), a Persian-Indian "polymath", artist, astronomer, mathematician, mechanical engineer, medic, philosopher, [William Gervase Clarence Smith, [http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/economicHistory/GEHN/GEHNPDF/ScienceandTechnology-WGCS.pdf Science and technology in early modern Islam, c.1450-c.1850] , XIV International Economic History Congress, Helsinki, Finland, 21-25 August 2006] scholar, physician, theologian, and inventor of multi-barrel gun. [A. K. Bag (2005), "Fathullah Shirazi: Cannon, Multi-barrel Gun and Yarghu", "Indian Journal of History of Science" 40 (3), pp. 431-436.]

*Athanasius Kircher (born 1601); "a 'polymath' if there ever was one. He studied a variety of subjects including... music, Egyptology, Sinology, botany, magnetism"; [cite book|title=A Barfield Reader|first=Owen A.|last=Barfield|year=1999|publisher=Wesleyan University Press, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0819563617&id=_Z669a_wMjIC&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&sig=4VT5l5VwPY0qpP2-A-UiFb3ufjY p. 47] ] "Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything" (book title) [cite book|title=Athanasius Kircher: The Last Man Who Knew Everything|first=Paula|last=Findlen (ed)|year=2004|publisher=Routledge (U. K.)|id=ISBN, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0415940168&id=6nnokX4nxtcC&pg=PA209&lpg=PA209&sig=Fq-XvF8__W1z-t-YHLGTUrWv78c p. 209] : "the Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher"]

*Benjamin FranklinFact|date=September 2008 (1706–1790); "The ultimate creole intellectual... A true polymath of the Enlightenment style, he distinguished himself on both sides of the Atlantic by researches in natural sciences as well as politics and literature." [cite book|title=The English Literatures of America,|first=Myra|last=Jehlen|coauthors=Michael Warner|year=1997|publisher=Routledge|id=ISBN [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0415908736&id=iveyYA_jI_sC&pg=PA667&lpg=PA667&sig=IeaSfLkF5kYFdkv3j9Fm7dRiAXA p. 667] ] He was a leading author, political theorist, politician, printer, scientist, inventor, civic activist, and diplomat.

*Mikhail Lomonosov (1711–1765); [cite book |title=By the Banks of the Neva: Chapters from the Lives and Careers of the British in Eighteenth-century Russia |last=Glenn Cross |first=Anthony |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1997 |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location= |isbn=9780521552936 |pages=474 |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=xtvANl4zfCIC&pg=PA228&lpg=PA228&dq=lomonosov+polymath+-%22who+made+important+contributions+to+literature%22&source=web&ots=luEHKqBbrA&sig=JLfb6nxqV29gsJuxb_7hUVMIY5g&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result#PPA228,M1 ] "Lomonosov was a true polymath—physicist, chemist, natural scientist, poet and linguist...." [cite book|title=The History of the Study of Landforms Or the Development of Geomorphology|first=Richard J.|last=Chorley|coauthors=Robert P Beckinsale|publisher=Routledge|year=1991|id=ISBN: "Lomonosov was a true polymath—physicist, chemist, natural scientist, poet and linguist...." [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0415056268&id=eQSU3twu2rcC&pg=PA169&lpg=PA169&sig=nk100Z5lO4DSR461YJQayL0_chs p. 169] ]

*Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826); some sources describe him as "polymath and President," putting "polymath" first; [cite book|title=Inventing the Earth: Ideas on Landscape Development Since 1740|first= Barbara A.|last=Kennedy|year=2006|publisher=Blackwell Publishing|id=ISBN "Jefferson, Thomas). Polymath and third President of the USA." [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1405101873&id=qu9tqlU-7hAC&pg=PA132&lpg=PA132&sig=uRmtxBi4mdTDwrXDZ_J22ASKnUU p. 132] ] John F. Kennedy famously commented, addressing a group of Nobel laureates, that it was "the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House—- with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." [cite book|title=Cassell's Humorous Quotations|first=Nigel|last=Rees|year=2003|publisher=Sterling Publishing Company|id=ISBN [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0304365882&id=yDKglJxZJskC&pg=PA392&lpg=PA392&sig=1jJe3Nw2MGhL5n3TjeT4zNf5SA8 p. 392] . Note that Jefferson is identified as "American Polymath and President."]

*Samuel Taylor Coleridge Fact|date=September 2008 (1772–1834); poet, critic, and philosopher [cite book|title=The Victorian World Picture|first=David|last=Newsome|year=1999|publisher=Cambridge University Press|id=ISBN "Coleridge was unquestionably a polymath, with a universal knowledge unequalled by any thinker of his day." [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0813527589&id=mkivzSGbGLEC&pg=PA259&lpg=PA259&sig=MCas4U7qxxzIQRBAPDdrAxmpzSk p. 259] ]

*Mary Somerville Fact|date=September 2008 (1780–1872); "Somerville was the most celebrated woman scientist of her time. A polymath, she wrote on astronomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, mineralogy, and geology, among other subjects." [cite book|title=Before Victoria: extraordinary women of the British Romantic era|author=Elizabeth Campbell Denlinger|year=2005|publisher=Columbia University Press|id=ISBN, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0231136307&id=dVIGcfOMwn8C&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&ots=nsmBAeQ1dE&dq=%22mary+somerville%22+polymath&sig=qYFLGL5vNjHRtX-zPyRujiPvOQo p. 135] : "Somerville was the most celebrated woman scientist of her time. A polymath, she wrote on astronomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, mineralogy, and geology, among other subjects..."]

*Joseph Pomeroy Widney Fact|date=September 2008 (1841-1938); " [i] n a similarly polymathic vein, Joseph Widney was an early president of the University of Southern California...." [Mike Davis, "City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles" (Vintage: 1992).]

*Jagadis Chandra Bose (1858-1937); Indian scientist, Bangla science fiction writer, and "a rare polymath who was equally at home in physics, biology, botany, archaeology and literature." [http://frontlineonnet.com/fl2124/stories/20041203003009100.htm A versatile genius] , "Frontline" 21 (24), 2004.]

*Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941); an Indian Bengali polymath; "He was a polymath: a poet, fiction writer, dramatist, painter, educator, political thinker, philosopher of science." [http://www.time.com/time/asia/asia/magazine/1999/990823/tagore1.html Rabindranath Tagore] , Time 100.]

*Edward Heron-Allen Fact|date=September 2008 (1861–1943); "Heron-Allen is better described as a polymath..." [R.B. Russell, Tartarus Press.] Not only was Heron-Allen a lawyer by trade, he also wrote, lectured on and created violins, was an expert on the art of chiromancy or palmistry, having read palms and analysed the handwriting of luminaries of the period. He wrote on musical, literary and scientific subjects ranging from foraminifera, marine zoology, meteorology, as a Persian scholar translated Classics such as the "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" and "The Lament of Baba Tahir", also wrote on local geographic history, archeology, Buddhist philosophy, the cultivation, gourmet appreciation of and culture of the asparagus, as well as a number of novels and short stories of science fiction and horror written under his pseudonymn of "Christopher Blayre."

*H. G. Wells Fact|date=September 2008 (1866–1946); "Fifty years ago, the British polymath and amateur historian was able to compress the history of the world up to 1920 into one volume..." [Whitman, Alden (1972): "A World History by 42 Professors," "The New York Times," July 18, 1972, p. 23: "Fifty years ago, the British polymath and amateur historian was able to compress the history of the world up to 1920 into one volume of 1171 pages weighing 3 pounds 3 ounces.... Now a somewhat similar book, concededly inspired by Well's, has been published. It is the work not of one man, but of 42."]

*C. B. Fry Fact|date=September 2008 (1872-1956); "Footballer, cricketer, politician and polymath" [cite book|title=Cricket: The Golden Age|first=Duncan|last=Steer|year=2003|publisher=Cassell illustrated|id=ISBN-X "Footballer, cricketer, politician and polymath C.B. Fry, now commander of a Royal Navy training ship" p.51]

*William James Sidis Fact|date=September 2008 (1898-1944); a child prodigy who wrote on such varied subjects as mathematics, cosmology, psychology, Native American history, and public transportation. "His sister, Helena, said of him that, as an adult, he could learn a new language in one day, and as an adult, he was a true polymath, a 'Renaissance man'." [ [http://hiqnews.megafoundation.org/William_Sidis.htm|The Prodigy] ]

*André Malraux Fact|date=September 2008 (1901-1976); French novelist, art historian, adventurer and politician;" France's first minister of culture and polymath extraordinaire" [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19961125/ai_n14082504/pg_1 Malraux laid to rest in the Pantheon of heroes | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ]

*John von Neumann (1903–1957); Physicist, mathematician, contributions to game theory, economics, pioneering computer scientist. "It isn't often that the human race produces a polymath like von Neumann, then sets him to work in the middle of the biggest crisis in human history..." [cite book|title=Tools for Thought: the history and future of mind-expanding technology|author=Howard Rheingold|publisher=MIT Press|year=2000|id=ISBN, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0262681153&id=k6auljJ9hJUC&pg=RA1-PA66&lpg=RA1-PA66&ots=FG9g37Cj98&dq=%22von+neumann%22+polymath&sig=_M-KR1VdxwT43TcD-0nSgUrFMrI p. 66] ] "Other luminaries would follow Einstein to New Jersey, including the dazzling Hungarian polymath, John von Neumann..." [cite book|title=Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel|author=Rebecca Goldstein|year=2005|publisher=W. W. Norton & Company|id=ISBN, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0393051692&id=qV4DJlEcDpMC&pg=RA1-PA19&lpg=RA1-PA19&dq=%22von+neumann%22+polymath&sig=dOuSon73UuDUOwJX1MZ7P0w_M7M p. 19] ]

*Herbert Simon Fact|date=September 2008 (1916-2001); "Simon is a very distinguished polymath, famous for work in psychology and computer science, philosophy of science, a leader in artificial intelligence, and a Nobel Prize winner in Economics." [cite book|title=Philosophy of Mathematics: An Introduction to a World of Proofs and Pictures|first=James Robert|last=Brown|year=1999|publisher=Routledge|id=ISBN, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0415122759&id=D4wyGRAs6d0C&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&sig=J6IsUTjXigSTxlu58fKuYE0OLzc p. 51] ]

*Satyajit Ray (1921–1992); an Indian Bengali polymath; Although known primarily as a film director, Ray excelled in many other roles such as a prolific fiction and non-fiction writer, puzzle author, painter, childrens' verse writer, editor, translator, publisher, illustrator, graphic designer, typographer and film critic. In most of his films, he would write scripts (original or adaptation), compose music and lyrics, story board, orchastrate the score, cast actors, design costumes, design title cards, design posters and other PR material as well as closely control cinematography, art direction and editing.Citation|title=A Passion for Diphthongs|first=Chandak|last=Sengoopta|year=2004|journal=History Workshop Journal Issue|volume=57|issue=1|pages=263-270 [265-6] |publisher=Oxford University Press|doi=10.1093/hwj/57.1.263]

"'Polymath' sportsmen"

In Britain, phrases such as "polymath sportsman," "sporting polymath," or simply "polymath" are occasionally used in a restricted sense to refer to athletes that have performed at a high level in several very different sports. (One whose accomplishments are limited to athletics would not be considered to be a "polymath" in the usual sense of the word). Examples would include:

*Howard Baker – "Similar claims to the title of sporting polymath could be made for Howard Baker" (who won high jump titles, and played cricket, football, and water polo): [cite book|title=Encyclopedia of British Football|first=Richard|last=Cox|year=2002|publisher=Routledge|id=ISBN [http://books.google.com/books?id=JKbb02bg6zYC&vid=ISBN0714652490&pg=PA15&lpg=PA15&sig=tUjKOwVSoViffVMjO49YDHgNNF0 p. 15] ]
*Maxwell Woosnam - "Sporting polymath is a full-time post..." [cite web|url=http://comment.independent.co.uk/columnists_m_z/brian_viner/article1218714.ece|publisher=The Independent|title=Sporting polymath is a full-time post for which only obsessives need apply: It is hard to get the head round the idea that one man excelled in so many sports|author=Brian Viner|date=2006-10-12|accessdate=2006-10-12: "I read a book by Mick Collins called All-Round Genius: The Unknown Story of Britain's Greatest Sportsman. It is about a man called Max Woosnam, who...toured Brazil with the famous Corinthians football team in 1913... won an Olympic gold medal for tennis, played golf off scratch, scored a century at Lord's, and made a 147 break on the snooker table."]
*Jackie Robinson - collegiate football, baseball, basketball, track and field, tennis; professional baseball
*Lionel Conacher - Canadian football, ice hockey, lacrosse, baseball, boxing and wrestling
*Bo Jackson - professional football, professional baseball, collegiate track and field. - "...I really never imagined myself being a professional athlete."
*Jim Thorpe - collegiate track and field, football, baseball, lacrosse; Olympic track and field; professional baseball, football, basketball
*Babe Zaharias - amateur track and field, basketball; professional golf

Fictional polymaths

Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, Nero Wolfe, William of Baskerville,
Gregory House of "House M.D.", Robert Goren of "",
Citan Uzuki of "Xenogears", Spider-Man, Buckaroo Banzai, Artemis Fowl II, Grand Admiral Thrawn of "Star Wars", Dunstan Ramsay of Robertson Davies's novel "Fifth Business", Professor Abraham Van Helsing of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Batman, Mister Peabody, Gil Grissom of "", Agent Pendergast, Hannibal Lecter, Doc Savage, Spock of "Star Trek", James Bond, The Lizard of Spider-Man, Jarod of "The Pretender", Dess of "Midnighter's Trilogy" by Scott Westerfeld, Albert Wesker of Resident Evil,
Charlie of "Heroes", Sam Beckett of "Quantum Leap", MacGyver, Fox Mulder from the X-Files and many main characters in the novels of Robert A. Heinlein could fairly be described as polymaths.

Polymaths in fiction often have a certain eccentricity about their knowledge, e.g., Doctor Who: "He claims he's (a doctor) of everything."

In the film Phenomenon, John Travolta plays a character who has inexplicably and suddenly become a budding polymath-type individual, somewhat akin to the Charley in Flowers for Algernon.

ee also

*Pantomath
*Philomath
*Polyhistor
*Polyglot
*Polymath (novel)
*Competent man

References and notes

Further reading

* [http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/Polymath.html Polymath: A Renaissance Man]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • polymath — (n.) 1620s, from Gk. polymathes having learned much, from polys much (see POLY (Cf. poly )) + root of manthanein learn (see MATHEMATIC (Cf. mathematic)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • polymath — ► NOUN ▪ a person of wide ranging knowledge or learning. DERIVATIVES polymathic adjective. ORIGIN from Greek polumath s having learned much …   English terms dictionary

  • polymath — [päl′ə math΄] n. [< Gr polymathēs, knowing much < poly , POLY + manthanein, learn: see MATHEMATICAL] a person of great and diversified learning polymathic adj …   English World dictionary

  • polymath — UK [ˈpɒlɪˌmæθ] / US [ˈpɑlɪˌmæθ] noun [countable] Word forms polymath : singular polymath plural polymaths formal someone who has a lot of knowledge about many different subjects …   English dictionary

  • polymath — noun Etymology: Greek polymathēs very learned, from poly + manthanein to learn more at mathematical Date: 1621 a person of encyclopedic learning • polymath or polymathic adjective • polymathy noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • polymath — polymathic, adj. /pol ee math /, n. a person of great learning in several fields of study; polyhistor. [1615 25; < Gk polymathés learned, having learned much, equiv. to poly POLY + mathes, adj. deriv. of manthánein to learn] * * * …   Universalium

  • polymath — noun /ˈpɒl.ɪ.mæθ,ˈpɑː.li.mæθ ,ˈpɑː.lɪ.mæθ/ A person with extraordinarily broad and comprehensive knowledge. Syn: polyhistor, renaissance man See Also: automath, polymathy, polymathic …   Wiktionary

  • polymath — pol|y|math [ˈpɔlımæθ US ˈpa: ] n [Date: 1600 1700; : Greek; Origin: polymathes having much knowledge , from manthanein to learn ] formal someone who has a lot of knowledge about many different subjects …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • polymath — pol|y|math [ pali,mæθ ] noun count FORMAL someone who has a lot of knowledge about many different subjects …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • polymath — see MATHEMATICS …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins


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