Last Renaissance Man

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Who was the last renaissance man? Was it you?

Long Ago and Far Away

In a time before Gutenberg, there were men, and a few women, who knew everything there was to know in their societies. They were up on the latest theology, on the latest medicine, on the latest science, and on the latest politics. They did all of this by exchanging letters and attending meetings. These were the Renaissance men.

Then the books came and knowledge exploded. No one could keep on top of everything anymore. It just was not physically possible. Every body had to specialize just to stay in action at all. About that time there lived the last Renaissance man.

You can pick your champion for that title; perhaps Dura, perhaps Galileo, perhaps Newton. Who he was does not matter to us now. That he is no more does matter.

What this means to Lunarpedia

We cannot be on top of everything. The best we can do is follow a few specialties that suit our interests and talents. Such specialization is equivalent to wearing a set of blinders, like a race horse, and a set of filters on our ears, like an Ipod user. We simply do not see and we do not hear very much that is outside our specific experience.

The last Renaissance man is long gone. We cannot be one and we are much better off not thinking we can. The best any modern person can do is simply be aware that we are all wearing both blinders on our eyes and filters on our ears, and be aware that others are also wearing different blinders and filters.

We can give people the space to exist in a universe flooded with information. In return we can ask that they grant us that freedom.

Stepping outside our limits

Sometimes, and only sometimes, we can step outside our existing limitations. We can look at the actions of a person and clearly see the blinders that limit their actions. Sometimes we can even watch for a short time using their blinders.

There is a strong Humans-on-Mars community. Their blinders and filters are similar to those of our Back-to-the-Moon community but not quite the same. Each group understanding the others limitations is the key to each group supporting the other.

There is also a prevent-global-warming community. We back-to-the-Moon people could easily get into fierce competition for scarce space resources with this group. We must understand each other's blinders in order to keep such a competition from ham-stringing both of us.

There are a lot more ideas on the Purposes List.