Polymaths: Universal Humans
F 2017




  •                   Polymaths are some of the most interesting persons one could meet. A Polymath is a person who excels in multiple fields, particularly in both arts and sciences. Today’s most common term for this is “A Renaissance Man.”  Many notable polymaths lived during the European Renaissance period, when a rounded approach to education was the typical ideal of humanists of the time.  Leonardo da Vinci is a prime example.  However, in more modern times we have many who qualify for this term: Bertrand Russell, Albert Schweitzer and Buckminster Fuller come to mind.


                       A polymath may not be classified as a genius, which is a more debatable classification; and certainly a genius may not display the breadth to qualify as a polymath. Albert Einstein is a prime example of a genius who was not a polymath.

    Join us for an interesting and engaging 14 weeks


TOPICS:  Below is a list of polymaths (others may be suggested from the "Bibliography" below) from which up to 28 (2/week) may be selected for study and discussion:

          Leonardo da Vinci                      Thomas Jefferson

          Benjamin Franklin                     Isaac Asimov

          Maimonides                               Hildegard of Bingen

          Francis Bacon                            Leone Battista Alberti

          Nicholas Copernicus                   Athanasius Kircher

          Pierre Beaumarchais                  Sir Richard Francis Burton

          Rene Descartes                          Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

          Alexander von Humboldt           Bertrand Russell

          Gottfried Leibniz                       Charles Wilson Peale

          Sir Isaac Newton                       Adam Smith

          Christopher Wren                      Nirad C. Chaudhuri

          Winston Churchill                      Jared Diamond

          Thomas Alva Edison                  Charles Babbage

          Buckminster Fuller                    Raymond Kurzweil

          Theodore Roosevelt                    Albert Schweitzer

          John Ronald Reuel Tolkien         Bertrand Russell

          José Protacio Mercado Rizal y Alonzo Realonda





Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind; Charles Nicholl

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; Walter Isaacson

Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds: Joel L. Kraemer

Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma; Michael Peppiatt

Copernicus' Secret: How the Scientific Revolution Began; Jack Repcheck

Beaumarchais: A Biography; Maurice Lever and Jean-Pierre Thomas

Descartes: A Biography; Desmond M. Clarke

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World; Andrea Wulf

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: The Polymath Who Brought Us Calculus; M. B. W. Tent

Isaac Newton; James Gleick

His Invention So Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren; Adrian Tinniswood

Churchill; Paul Johnson

The Story of Thomas Alva Edison; Margaret Cousins

Buckminster Fuller: Poet of Geometry; Cole Gerst

Theodore Roosevelt: Theodore Rex; Edmund Morris

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography; Humphrey Carpenter and J.R.R. Tolkien

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power; Jon Meacham

I, Asimov: A Memoir; Isaac Asimov

Voice of the Living Light: Hildegard of Bingen and Her World; Barbara Newman

Leon Battista Alberti: Universal Man of the Early Renaissance; Joan Gadol

Athanasius Kircher's Theatre of the World: The Life and Work of the Last Man to Search for Universal Knowledge; Joscelyn Godwin

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography; Edward Rice

Autobiography: Truth and Fiction Relating to My Life; von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang

Bertrand Russell; A. J. Ayer

The Ingenious Mr. Peale: Painter; Patriot, and Man of Science; Janet Wilson

Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life; Nicholas Phillipson

Nirad C. Chaudhuri: Many Shades, Many Frames; Dhruva N. Chaudhuri and Khushwant Singh

Charles Babbage and The Countess; Patricia Warrick

Albert Schweitzer: A Biography, Second Edition; James Brabazon



Weekly Topics