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Old June 12th, 2010, 11:05 AM   #1

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History's Greatest Polymaths


Rank those who you consider to be the top 5 greatest polymaths in history.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 11:28 AM   #2

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Re: History's Greatest Polymaths


Isaac Newton
Leonardo Da Vinci
Aristotle
Benjamin Franklyn
Alfred the Great

In that order.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 12:55 PM   #3

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Re: History's Greatest Polymaths


Not bad but I can't quite agree with that list. Newton was the greatest scientist in my view but probably not the greatest polymath although he covered an amazing range in his endeavours. Newton's contemporary and countryman Robert Hooke should be in there and near the top. Certainly ahead of Franklin IMHO albeit less touted. Alfred the G looks a bit strange in this list too unless burning cakes qualifies for polymath greatness.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 12:58 PM   #4
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Re: History's Greatest Polymaths


I set out to be a polymath, but when I found that the so-called "deferential" equations weren't, I gave it up.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 01:09 PM   #5

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Re: History's Greatest Polymaths


I have to go with Aristotle from Black Dog's list as the greatest and most famous. Some others are listed below.

Aristotle
Archimedes
Leone Battista Alberti
Thomas Jefferson
Zhangh Heng
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Old June 12th, 2010, 02:28 PM   #6

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Re: History's Greatest Polymaths


Well, when seen through the lens of his own time, Alfred isn't that out of place: one must remember that later or earlier than the middle ages, there was more scope to be a polymath!

Nevertheless, Alfred not only laid the foundations for the Royal Navy, translated several books himself, tried to revive learning (by his own example), codified and defined English law and was also a great tactician and fighter and plainly someone very curious about the world. The main hallmark of a polymath: one cannot choose polymath as a career, because it is a full time job
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Old June 12th, 2010, 04:56 PM   #7

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Re: History's Greatest Polymaths


Only the five greatest? That's going to be a little bit difficult. Still, after some hacking and plucking of the list that sprang to mind...

- Lorenzo 'de Medici
- Leonardo 'da Vinci
- Gaius Julius Caesar
- Benjamin Franklin
- Theodore Roosevelt
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Old June 12th, 2010, 05:43 PM   #8

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Re: History's Greatest Polymaths


My avatar is one. National hero of the Philippines, Jose Rizal.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 07:02 PM   #9
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Re: History's Greatest Polymaths


me
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Old June 12th, 2010, 09:40 PM   #10
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Re: History's Greatest Polymaths


Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulinus View Post
Not bad but I can't quite agree with that list. Newton was the greatest scientist in my view but probably not the greatest polymath although he covered an amazing range in his endeavours. Newton's contemporary and countryman Robert Hooke should be in there and near the top. Certainly ahead of Franklin IMHO albeit less touted. Alfred the G looks a bit strange in this list too unless burning cakes qualifies for polymath greatness.

I see Newton as a page turner from the last remnants of the ancient world to the modern, who opened up new thresholds in polymath, as did Einstein in cosmological sciences. What is never mentioned in math history is that the first scientific cencus, in their millions, with sub-totals of ages, gender and groupings, is in the book of Exodus, constituting the first example of a tribal community graduating to a nation of 3 million. This was 3,300 years ago.
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