…Those who still sought for some sort of wholeness, balance, and autonomy were driven to the outskirts of western society: the pioneer alone preserved the qualities of the all-round man, though he was forced to sacrifice many of the goods of a rich historic tradition to achieve this. In general, the notion of the segmentation of labor was carried from the factory to every other human province.
In accepting this partition of functions and this over-emphasis of a single narrow skill, men were content, not merely to become fragments of men, but to become fragments of fragments: the physician ceased to deal with the gody as a whole and looked after a single organ, indeed, even in Dr Oliver Wendell Holmes’s time, he remarked on specialists in the diseases of the right leg, who would not treat those of the left.
…In those periods of balance and completeness — and completeness is an essential attribute of the balanced person — Hegel’s definition of an educated man still magnificently held: “He who is capable of doing anything any other man can do.”
This view of human development contradicts the central dogma of modern civilization: that specialism is here to “stay.” Rather, to the very extent that the perversions of specialism are accepted as inevitable, the civilization that clings to them is doomed. Our deepening insight into the needs of organisms, societies, and personalities supports just the opposite conclusion: specialism is hostile to life, for it is the non-specialized organisms that are in the line of growth; and only by overcoming the tendency to specialization can the community or person combat the rigidity which leads to inefficiency and a general failure to meet life’s fresh demands.
– From The Conduct of Life