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There is nowhere in the article which clearly describes the distinction between the primary and secondary definitions of "polymath". Can someone who knows add this in please??? NZUlysses (talk) 00:19, 27 September 2008 (UTC) Although to be honest I suspect this distinction is arbitrarily made for the purposes of this article.NZUlysses (talk) 00:47, 27 September 2008 (UTC)[reply]

"In less formal terms, a polymath (or polymathic person) may simply refer to someone who is very knowledgeable." The first sentence doesn't seem formal at all. :/ (talk) 04:49, 15 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]

A Polymath is probably just a Savant with more than one talent; a rare individual indeed. --lbeben 01:36, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

On the contrary, a polymath's expertise covers many wide areas and is not restricted in the way that a multi-talented savant is. Dbfirs 10:29, 3 December 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Im missing the word "Multi-Disciplinarian" in the article. A polymath's expertise covers many disciplines but may not be as "deep" as a savants expertise in one or a few different areas.Legikajlerni (talk) 12:37, 6 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Um, related to the definition of polymath itself, citation [2] refers to the term "polyhistor" and links back to this article for clarification -- but the linked section is missing. This either needs removed or repaired. KhyranLeander 16:41, 6 May 2016 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Khyranleander (talkcontribs)

More to add[edit]


Mathematician, physicist, philosopher


Mathematician, physicist, philosopher


Ethical philosopher, Aesthetic philosopher, mathematician, political theorist, literary contributor, teacher, Metaphysician, psychology, epistemology, wrestler in his early years


Natural philosopher, Metaphysician, mathematician, spiritual leader, astronomer, layed foundations for western music theory

Robert M Pirsig[edit]

Biochemist, philosopher, writer

René Descartes[edit]

Philosopher, Mathematician, psychology.

Ruy Barbosa[edit]

Jurist, politician, diplomat, writer, philosopher, polyglot. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:37, 28 February 2016 (UTC)[reply]


Biologist, physicist, metaphysician, ethical philosopher, political philosopher, teacher, Zoologist, founder of Logic, Music, Poetry, Theatre, Rhetoric 


Metaphysician, philosopher, composer, poet, novelist, artist

Leonardo Da Vinci[edit]

Artist, musician, inventor, anatomical anthropologist, pioneer


Minor philosopher, economist, astronomer, physicist, mathematician

Thomas Young[edit]

Physicist, historian, egyptologist, polyglot, medical doctor


Architect, biologist, physicist

Muntadher Saleh[edit]

Artist, writer, pharmacist — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:05, 13 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Sir Themistocles Zammit[edit]

Historian, archeologist, biologist, chemist, medical doctor

Sasha Grey[edit]

Actress, model, writer, musician, and former pornographic actress

— Preceding unsigned comment added by AL12345 (talkcontribs) 09:57, 22 June 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Arabs. Vast quantities of Arabs[edit]

I came here expecting to see genuine Polymaths such as Francis Galton (not present). Instead I see massive quantities of Arabic names, leading to people whose accomplishments are mostly trivial. The whole list seems somewhat ridiculous, and a massive re-write is perhaps in order. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:57, 29 August 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Anyone listed should have RS to say they were a polymath. Massive quantities of Arabic names perhaps reflects the astonishing contribution Arabs have made to world culture, especially in the medieval period. Your perception of their accomplishments as "trivial" is your POV and has an uncomfortable undertone to it, undermining your comments. Finally, if you have RS to show Francis Galton is a "polymath", please do use it! --Dweller (talk) 10:47, 16 September 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Unfortunately an excessive deal of Galton's work was pseudoscience and he had very shoddy educational credentials. The Persian polymaths on the other hand (with Arabic names) have well established credentials having written various manuscripts which advanced many actual specialized sciences like spherical trigonometry and algebra. If anything don't add Galton unless you have some serious evidence if any at all
an arabic name does not make a person Arab. they are mostly persian.--Xashaiar (talk) 09:31, 15 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Sigh! such ignorance bordering on racism.IsaKazimi (talk) 03:05, 18 February 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Americans and an Iranian together against Arabs, now that's irony!
They weren't mostly Arabs; they were mostly Persians — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:52, 12 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
Arabian and Persian art and science was more advanced than that in Europe in both antiquity before the age of Greece and in the medieval period, where Arabia and Persia developed modern mathematics, existential philosophy, abstract poetry, the modern novel, heliocentric astronomy, and laid the ground work for the renaissance. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Shandor Newman (talkcontribs) 05:53, 12 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Newton, in case you're wondering, was a polymath[edit]

I appreciate the difficulty of defining polymath and distinguishing among candidates. However, "Isaac Newton, ... are examples of people widely viewed as geniuses, but who are not generally considered to be polymaths." is almost too silly for words. I add this comment immediately after "Vast quantities of Arabs" to make the point even more clear. For my Edits and further comments see List of polymaths. Jamesdowallen (talk) 11:15, 5 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This article in two spots mentions Newton - firstly saying he is, the saying he isn't. Can't have it both ways in an encyclopedia article! Someone needs to make a good arguement for this and remove the opposite!

MatthewCummins (talk) 13:17, 2 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]


Finished. Finally. --Dweller (talk) 12:44, 18 September 2008 (UTC)[reply]

+1 --Dweller (talk) 11:19, 23 September 2008 (UTC)[reply]
+1 --Dweller (talk) 20:35, 24 September 2008 (UTC)[reply]
I've just restored some of those polymaths in the article along with reliable references, and removed them from this list accordingly. Regards, Jagged 85 (talk) 02:35, 2 October 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Super. That's the way to do it. --Dweller (talk) 14:08, 7 October 2008 (UTC)[reply]
-- I would suggest that physics and math are essentially the same for determining a polymath, and the example of Blaise Pascal shows that only three areas of expertise are sufficient. Especially tricky when you consider that theology is simply a branch of philosophy.

That having been said, I would submit Brian May, the guitarist from Queen who is also a PhD in astrophysics, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, guitarist from the Doobie Brothers who has worked as a paid consultant in the aerospace industry, particular in the area of missile defense, and the girl who played Winnie on The Wonder Years, who went on to become a published (peer-reviewed journal) mathematician.

Physics and math are not essentially the same. You may as well say English and Latin are basically the same. Theology is not a branch of philosophy. To think so shows blatant ignorance. Also, Brian May only finished his PhD what - last year? He's made no significant contributions to the field. Additionally, while he's a good guitarist, I'd hardly call the man a genius even at that. Half of my friends would be on the list if you want studio musicians with advanced degrees.

I would not submit Tony Bennett or Jeff Goldlum (singer/painter and actor/jazz pianist respectively) because they are only know for their secondary endeavours because of the fame from their primary ones.

On the other hand, Johnny Carson was a talk show host, drummer, magician, and linguist (Russian and Swahili).

Learning the rudiments of a language does not make you a linguist. I know a few languages. I'm not a linguist.

Chomski is no more a polymath than Thomas Sowell is. They're both specialists in one field (linguistics and economics, respectively) who are ensconced in cushy academic situations where they (using researchers) can publish on anything they want. Note that I picked one from the right to compare with Chomski. Fair and balanced. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:41, 20 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]

If a reliable source has called someone a "polymath", we should include them. --Dweller (talk) 11:03, 22 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Where are the WOMEN on this list?[edit]

Is Wikipedia implying that only MEN can be polymaths? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:22, 7 October 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Wikipedia implies nothing. Wikipedia is a mirror of what is said by reliable sources. If you have RS saying that any woman from history was a "polymath" please add her to the article. --Dweller (talk) 16:43, 7 October 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Other than Hildegard de Bingen, there really aren't very many. Blame the platykurtic Male IQ curve or the patriarchy, but you won't find many RS's that say otherwise.Guinness4life (talk) 16:22, 25 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]
It is important to consider that without a formal education women had a difficult time becoming recognized as a polymath. In addition, Wikipedia contributors need to look for and include women who were under the tutelage of churches and other religious institutions as that was one way for women prior to 20th century to have resources available for learning.Remember women were considered property of men until 20th century and still are in many parts of the world. I vote for Hildegard Von Bingen to be on the list of polymaths on Wikipedia.12:42, 8 July 2010 (UTC)user:Lianow —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lianow (talkcontribs)
I'm surprised that Hypatia isn't on the list, since she was sufficiently diverse to be a respected philosopher, mathematician and astronomer. Vivikafa (talk) 03:02, 24 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I agree Hypatia should definitely be on the list. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:03, 31 March 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Asimov a polymath?[edit]

I believe he's published books that are all over the Dewey Decimal System. See Isaac Asimov.-- (talk) 18:20, 17 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]

If a reliable source has called him a "polymath", we should include him. --Dweller (talk) 11:02, 22 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Agree, I will look for RS. He's published in every category except philosophy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Guinness4life (talkcontribs) 16:23, 25 April 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Sorry I know this is old but just had to comment. 'If a reliable source has called him a "Polymath",'. By reliable source I assume you mean an 'expert' on polymaths, and I would assume other forms of genius. Got news for you no such thing really exists. 'Polymath' and genius in general are poorly understood by academics, and (I'm pretty sure) little or no real substantial or quantitative research on this has been done. Even just reading this talk page is enough to show that even at the basic classification level things are pretty ropy.
BTW, By my definition a polymath is a person who can turn their abilities to many different disparate talents and can attain some reasonable level of ability in at least several. A genius level polymath can do the above and also achieve very high levels of talent in (at least) one field and can use knowledge gained from one area to use in and improve another. - A primary distinguishing feature most or all polymaths is a very good or near eidetic memory.
My list of genius level polymaths if I made one might start - Leonardo Da Vinci, then Nickola Tesla, then Albert Einstein, another might be Winston Churchill.
I doubt that any kind of really reliable list or criteria can be made, which basically leaves Wikipedia looking a bit foolish.. Lucien86 (talk) 16:11, 20 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Neil deGrasse Tyson called Asimov a polymath at 0:50 Just sayin'. (talk) 20:32, 17 January 2015 (UTC)[reply]

First and second meanings[edit]

This paragraph...

In other cases, polymath is used to describe a meaning in a continuum of concepts, ranging from the person who knows a lot about several fields of study or has a varied or encyclopaedic knowledge (which will be called the first meaning in this article) to the person who has proficiency and competence in multiple fields or even to the person who has excelled in multiple fields (which will be called the second meaning). However, this distinction between the first and second meanings of the word might be subjective and even artificial since the existence of the last sense is only justified by those people who use the word polymath, in a more selective way, to denote someone with a verifiable proficiency in multiple fields, or, in an even more selective way, to denote someone with verifiable excellence or accomplishments in multiple fields (see the Etymological differentiation between Polymath and Polyhistor for an example of this distinction).

...was removed 3 years ago but the article still refers to the first and second meaning of polymath as if the paragraph were still present.--Lairor (talk) 03:14, 26 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Renaissance Ideal, NPOV[edit]

The entire subsection on the Renaissance Ideal reads like an opinion piece lamenting about how today's men study a very specialized subfield, without sufficient citations. In reality, students attain a wide exposure to education, possibly more than the gentleman living in the Renaissance from high school where students are themselves encouraged to learn from as diverse a range of fields as possible. Hence the NPOV. Anivisual (talk) 04:55, 12 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Four of the five paragraphs in that section site no references at all. Nasch (talk) 04:07, 25 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
And the references that are there do not support the thrust of the claims being made. With this many people complaining and the section not having any encyclopedic purpose, I have removed it completely. DreamGuy (talk) 16:05, 9 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

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List of polymaths?[edit]

What happened to the page with a list of people who are held to be polymaths? It's gone entirely. -- (talk) 18:51, 20 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]

It was too controversial. Someone ninja-ordered it by name against consensus and was reverted. I did not follow further but I suspect politics reared its ugly head. (talk) 03:28, 6 September 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Intelligence citations bibliography for updating this and other articles[edit]

You may find it helpful while reading or editing articles to look at a bibliography of Intelligence Citations, posted for the use of all Wikipedians who have occasion to edit articles on human intelligence and related issues. I happen to have circulating access to a huge academic research library at a university with an active research program in these issues (and to another library that is one of the ten largest public library systems in the United States) and have been researching these issues since 1989. You are welcome to use these citations for your own research. You can help other Wikipedians by suggesting new sources through comments on that page. It will be extremely helpful for articles on human intelligence to edit them according to the Wikipedia standards for reliable sources for medicine-related articles, as it is important to get these issues as well verified as possible. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 17:29, 26 September 2013 (UTC)[reply]

The lead/lede[edit]

I have made a few small edits to the second paragraph of the lead/lede to improve clarity and conciseness. However, I feel there is something that still needs improvement in that paragraph. It seems a bit wordy. Also, there is quite a variety of terms. I see "notion", then "tenet", then "concept", and finally "notion" again. I don't know what to do, if anything. Perhaps someone who really knows the subject could ponder this and perhaps improve the paragraph further. CorinneSD (talk) 01:20, 2 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Ruy Barbosa[edit]

Brazilian jurist, writer, polyglot, politician, diplomat and philosopher — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:32, 28 February 2016 (UTC)[reply]

L Ron Hubbard[edit]

Various sources list this man as a visionary in music, medicine, psychology, art, nuclear physics, and philosophy. He was also a child prodigy according to various sources. You may want to add him in both articles. (unsigned comment by User:Deibwan, 12:42, 9 May 92014)

Rolf Harris reference[edit]

Is it still appropriate to reference Rolf Harris in the 'Other uses' section of this page given his recent high profile conviction? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:47, 12 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I've taken the mention of Harris out entirely, mainly because the reference to him as a polymath just seems like a one-shot reference and not really encyclopedic. That may also apply to the other "other uses" people so I will take a look. Yes, he is a convicted felon. Incidentally, the most recent talk page posts go a the bottom, so I've moved this topic to the correct spot on this page. Coretheapple (talk) 19:15, 12 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Original research[edit]

This article has a large amount of original research. In particular, I see that an IP editor has introduced a long list of arbitrary "renaissance men" essentially reinstating the list that was correctly removed by User:Dweller a few days ago. Arbitrary lists of persons, selected by Wikipedia editors, are not permitted by the policy on original research, and is of dubious factual accuracy. Coretheapple (talk) 19:04, 13 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I'd support reverting to Dweller's version. Does anyone object? Dbfirs 23:15, 13 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
@Dbfirs: Yes, there is a reasonably clear consensus for there not being a list, selected arbitrarily. Indeed a free-standing list article was deleted for that reason. Coretheapple (talk) 14:55, 14 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Dweller's version was the one without the list, but there have been some rearrangements since then. It's very difficult to know who should be included in such a list because everyone has their own favourites. We still have the one objection in the article.
Many notable polymaths <!--WHO WERE THEY???? How is a reader of this article supposed to find the Wikipedia articles on them?--> lived during the [[The Renaissance|Renaissance period]] ...
How do we answer it? Dbfirs 19:23, 14 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Including a partial list is WP:POV. A full list has been deemed by the community at several AfD debates to be impossible. I'd go for no names at all. --Dweller (talk) 20:14, 14 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I've changed the hidden note to reflect this consensus. Would it be better as a footnote? Dbfirs 22:08, 14 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I think the hidden note is fine. Coretheapple (talk) 14:06, 15 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]

hindu rabinath togare[edit]

someone tried to add rabinath togare, and i don't think he is one.

why do i have to be nice to hindus? they've constantly overemphasised their role in mathematics, even when boyer has given them more than they deserve.

now they're trying to add some loser "postmodern blablabla" as a polymath. like this hindu was ever da vinci. give me a break man. (talk) 04:42, 3 March 2016 (UTC)[reply]

New Life for the List?[edit]

Have been scouring the web for a reliable list of polymaths. None exists. It's a shame that the list was scrubbed from the main wikiedia article, as this was one of the few good resources on the topic. For my own research, I was able to cull from the talk and history pages, but not all users will access this.

Any interest in reviving this section, controversy be damned? This is the sort of thing that wikipedia should be doing. --Iasonaki (talk) 13:59, 1 October 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Self-Promotion in Academia[edit]

The whole section "In Academia" reads like shameless self-promotion and copy-pasting (not even in Wiki format - references left in text as e.g. "(R. Root-Bernstein, 2009, p. 857)" straight out of someone's thesis). Who is supposed to understand this babble - "He utilized a hermeneutic-phenomenological approach...." - this is irrelevant & spams up the page. Suggest delete the whole thing. --anonymous (talk) 23:06, 22 April 2021 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2001:A61:247A:6B01:5158:15AA:67E7:8BCA (talk) [reply]

I agree, I came here to comment the exact same thing. (talk) 04:45, 3 January 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Acharya chanakya one of the ancient polymath[edit]

Some People unaware Of that but I would like to add a Article on this page 21aryan (talk) 02:52, 29 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Block of text to add[edit]

At The Polymath#Summary, I've summarised a 2018 book which is apparently the first English-language book on the topic. Almost all of the summary could be posted in this article. I propose that we introduce it with "In his 2018 book The Polymath, British author Waqas Ahmed defines polymaths as those who..." and then the rest of the second paragraph and the rest of the Summary section, excluding the little paragraph at the end ("Throughout the book..."). Ahmed has posts at the Open University and the London Interdisciplinary School so counts as an academic, so this could be a subsection of the "In academia" section of the article, but where it goes is not so important. Because I wrote the article about the book on paid time, I have a COI so I would be grateful if someone would implement this change or give me permission to do so. MartinPoulter (talk) 15:24, 22 June 2022 (UTC)[reply]

 Not done for now: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. PK650 (talk) 11:15, 25 June 2022 (UTC)[reply]
@PK650: Apologies. In the "In academia" section of this article, introduce a subsection heading "Waqas Ahmed". As the text for that subsection, take the "Summary" section of the article The Polymath, exclude the first and last paragraphs, and add the clause "In his 2018 book The Polymath, British author Waqas Ahmed defines polymaths as those who..." right at the start to introduce the section. Is this clear enough? MartinPoulter (talk) 15:17, 25 June 2022 (UTC)[reply]