I am wondering if any philosophers have described this concept. For example, if you wanted to get into music school, it would be better to master one instrument than try to get good at two instruments.

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    There is no definitive "concept" that it is "better" even outside philosophy. And philosophers will tell you that it is meaningless to ask what is "better" without specifying for what and by whose standards, and that the implied inference that jack of all trades is master of none is a fallacy. Here is philosophers' bemoaning that "*the college professor who was formerly a jack of all trades, now modestly confesses that he is master of none". The Philosophical Review, Volume 15, 1906 (p.130). – Conifold Aug 28 '18 at 7:16
  • This from Hegel, "The man who, on the contrary, would do everything, really would do nothing, and fails. There is a host of interesting things in the world: Spanish poetry, chemistry, politics, and music are all very interesting, and if any one takes an interest in them we need not find fault. But for a person in a given situation to accomplish anything, he must stick to one definite point, and not dissipate his forces in many directions." Encyclopedia Phil. Sciences, Sec. 80. I would not call this an essential doctrine of Hegel, more of an aside to make a point. – Gordon Aug 28 '18 at 7:48
  • I'm counting myself Jack-of-all-trades. I write about myself: "I don't like to deepen inside things. I want to sit on the top grasping as much as I can, but missing details due to my imperfect vision". But without details nothing we still would live in Stone Age. Without people capable of superficial understanding of lots of things we would be there as well. Everyone is important as long as there is practical use of skills. – rus9384 Aug 28 '18 at 13:43
  • The well-known saying actually expresses the opposite philosophy: "jack of all trades, master of none, but often better than master of one". – Steve Jun 20 at 13:51

There is a Nietzschean idea of peaks of excellence, which are purported to be of more benefit to humanity than a sea of mediocrity, in that new inventions of benefit to all come from the peaks.

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  • But do the peaks of excellence occur primarily amongst those who master just one topic to the exclusion of all others, or from those who know many topics? – Steve Jun 20 at 13:55

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