When you have over six thousand years of recorded history, choosing ten exemplary Geeks will certainly be just skimming the surface and leaving out many notable names. There are also many anonymous Geeks who never got proper notice—the person who figured out how to use a wheel to make everyone’s work easier, the Geek who paid close attention to what was edible and what was poisonous by using the scientific method of observation (of others getting sick) and let’s not forget the devoted brewer who figured out fermentation (imagine the trial and error on that one!).
Each Geek chosen here led a relatively long life for their era and made sure that they received some measure of recognition. Geeks for all of their supposed lack of social skills (more of a nerd thing, really) do want to get noticed. And the long life comes from keen observational skills matched with enough good sense to avoid dying as a hero. So in the spirit of learning how it is done, let’s meet our oldest school Geeks.
1. Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
Aristotle was first and foremost known as a student. Socrates taught Plato and Plato taught Aristotle. To continue the chain, Aristotle was tutor of Alexander the Great and his successor Ptolemy at the Royal Academy in Macedonia and of the elite youth of Athens at his Lyceum. He helped to preserve the knowledge he had acquired from those who preceded him and then went on to fill in the gaps and instruct his influential students.
Aristotle set up to understand not only the world of the mind but also the physical world that surrounded him. Mathematics, astronomy, physics, medicine and zoology were observed, examined and theorized into whole new orders. Some of his ideas evolved into our current understanding, some shaped our understanding of logical arrangements of life forms into kingdoms and smaller groups, and some of his ideas were proven to be wildly off base. What makes him a geek is that he set out to find out answers and develop theories on everything.