Generalism – What we need to know? Public discussion

generalism specialism

[Scroll down for English version]

Generalism – Vad vi behöver veta?  En diskussion om vad som är värt att veta, om expertis och användbar kunskap

Vad är en specialist eller generalist? Vad definierar en expert och vem bestämmer det? Vad är vinsterna och vad är förlusterna när man arbetar över gränserna mellan olika kunskapsområden? Fördelning av arbete och delegering av uppgifter verkar praktiskt, men sker det på bekostnad av en vidare förståelse för omvärlden? I dagens samhälle spelar specialisten en viktig ekonomisk och kulturell roll. Hjärnkirurger, ingenjörer och ekonomer förväntas fylla de utrymmen där gemene hen saknar kompetens eller självförtroende. I ett försök att förstå innebörden av detta ställer vi oss frågan: Kan konstvärlden eller den akademiska sfären vara ett fungerande alternativ till denna typ av resultatinriktad struktur?
Generalism – What we need to know? Public discussion on what is worth knowing, expertise and useful knowledge
What is it to be a specialist or a generalist? What defines an expert and who makes those decisions? What might be gained or lost when we work across differernt disciplines? Division of labour and delegating work seems practical, but is it done at the expense of a broader understanding of the world aound us? Specialists have an important role in contemporary society. Neurosurgeons, engineers and economists are often expected to fill the gaps where common people lack skill or confidence. In an effort to understand the implications of this, we ask ourselves: Does the art world or academia function as a viable alternative to those more explicitly result-driven contexts?


Tillsammans med frågorna ovan fungerade en samling citat som knutpunkter för diskussionen:

These quotes, along with the questions above, formed a starting point for a public discussion:


“[I]n a democracy local populations not only will, but also should, use the sciences in ways most suitable to them. The objection that citizens do not have the expertise to judge scientific matters overlooks that important problems often lie across the boundaries of various sciences so that scientists within these sciences don’t have the needed expertise either.”
Paul K Feyerabend: Against Method


“The doctrine inculcated since Aristotle that moderation is the virtue appropriate to reasonable people, is among other things an attempt to found so securely the socially necessary division of man into functions independent of each other, that it occurs to none of these functions to cross over to the others and remind each other of man.”
Theodor W Adorno: Minima Moralia – Reflections on a Damaged Life


“Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience; but as blind obedience is ever sought for by power, tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavor to keep woman in the dark, because the former only wants slaves, and the latter a plaything.”
Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Ricghts of Woman


“I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuities. If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top.”

Richard Buckminster Fuller: Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s