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In ancient Greece, as the wealthiest members of society began to discover that their new-found riches could purchase all the oil and cloth and tacky cutlery they desired, it became chic to instead hire on a philosopher, someone who was literally paid to do nothing but sit around and think strange thoughts all day. To these nouveau riche, a successful philosopher was an ornament, a badge of pride for the house -- and if something useful came out of the thought, like a new method of measurement or a way to burn enemy ships with giant mirrors, that was even better.

In the modern era, few people are paid to just think about things today. We've become specialized, and expect our thinkers to train for years to just think about one narrow topic for their entire lives; people forget that Pythagoras was a deeply religious man who also invented a system of musical notation when not playing with triangles, and consider Archimedes to be a clever guy with a bathtub. We don't have many Renaissance men today (a term that pays homage to Leonardo DaVinci, a philosopher of the old school who studied biology to support his art, studied art to illustrate his science, and invented a new way of sleeping to maximize the time he could spend awake). Maybe it's impossible, with all the breadth and width of modern knowledge, for one man to try to encompass or envision all or even most of it; still, we've narrowed our minds and concentrated our thinking so much that I can't help feeling that we're letting all the important thoughts slip through the cracks.

That's why I was an English major, actually. Even more than a study of Philosophy (with a capital "P"), literature requires you to understand everything in its context; it's no coincidence that most of the greatest philosophers of history were authors, and vice versa.

Anyway, to the right are a few neat links. To return here, just click on the Philosophy link on the top frame, or click on the "Home" icon to go right back to my home page.