Posted : Tuesday, Jun 11, 2019 at 5:49am

The Theory of Talent

Extract from 'The Meditations of Mandla Msibi'


The word talent is so commonly used that one believes that they understand what a talent is and how talents affect the lives of ordinary people. Talents are believed to be the root of all hobbies but in actuality talents are essential in all major (specialized) human tasks therefore choosing a job or purpose based on ones talent will have a positive effect on human civilization. In order to understand what this statement means one must firstly define what a talent is, followed by a brief description of how one grows their talents and how the use of talents is essential in identifying which situations they can be used.

What is a talent?

Talent(s) can be defined as an aptitude or group of aptitudes; with an aptitude being a natural ability to do something. Therefore by stating that we all have talents one means that everyone has a natural ability to do something. Furthermore ones talent or group of talents could be specific to one individual and/or that individual’s bloodline.

Where talents originate from this can be open to speculation; to some people it is believed that talents are a gift from a deity but the idea of genetics is also not far off because there are multiple cases in which majority or all members of a specific family have a similar aptitude for example when majority members of a specific family can sing.

Furthermore talents can be grouped into mental and physical talents. Mental talents would be talents that need more mental ability than physical ability for example being able to write (effective sentence construction) or being able to understand mathematics effectively and physical talents could be activities such as sports this all means that a talent is actually the ability to grasp something quickly.

Growing ones talent

Talent may be the natural ability to grasp something but without [hard] work it can be rendered useless this implies that one only becomes greater at a talent through practise; secondly it can also be possible to learn something without being talented at it. Having a talent does not entail that you are the best at that ability; it only means that you grasp it faster than another person.

One loophole to the statement is that one won’t know all of their talents because of accessibility and another is that with some talents it is either you have them or you do not have them these are things which are near impossible to learn by your own effort. Examples of each would be, firstly with accessibility how will one know if one is good or bad at something if they have never actually had access to the activity in question, like an instrument, if one has never even seen a violin in real life how can one state that they have or lack talent in playing the violin? Secondly singing is an example of a talent which one either has or lacks because if one person cannot hold any notes their chances of them learning how to sing effectively are slim or there is no chance at all.

Tabula Rasa and Equality

Tabula Rasa the idea that all of humanity is born like a blank slate meaning that it is only from experience that gains all that they know, with no inclinations, this notion would imply that what we call talent is only the result of experience, however aptitudes are inclinations because they are ones ability to grasp something meaning that one is actually born with latent abilities in the form of aptitudes (Talents) which are improved, tapped into, through experience (practise) thus refuting this possible objection.

If all people have talents and there is no tabula rasa it is easy to believe that people can be ranked according to their talents because each talent can be used for specific tasks. This would mean that people can be ranked based on the usefulness of each talent thus making some talents more important than others.

This is a flawed notion and an example using the deductive method of reason will be used to prove this statement:

• If Talent A is more important than Talent B
• And if Person A has Talent A whilst Person B has Talent B
• This entails that Person A is more important than Person B


• Talent A is only important in situation A while Talent B is only important in Situation B
• Therefore one cannot state which talent is most important because situations differ
• Further entailing that one cannot claim that Person A is more important than Person B because each person needs the relevant situation or type of work in order to be the most effective.
This keeps the notion of equality amongst people.

The uses of a talent

The example above shows that a society that is based on talent has the possibility to advance much quicker than one that doesn’t the reasoning behind this is that if talent A is best for work A, is it not best for a person with talent A to practise work A – they will grasp it much quicker and are more likely to be innovative in work A.

This will have a positive effect on human civilization because this civilization is more likely to become more advanced at a quicker rate. People who enjoy their talents work more effectively and joyously thus if all humanity follows their talents as a guide to their purpose will a happier society not be created?

This notion is rooted in the recognition that talents can both be physical and mental meaning that a society based on talent won’t just be about art and recreation but there will be space for jobs based on mental talents such as science, mathematics and commerce.

Therefore one possible manner for society to attain a human civilization is to create a society that promotes following ones talent.


The essay above has shown that choosing a job or purpose based on ones talent will have a positive effect on human civilization. This was done by firstly explaining that a talent is the natural ability to grasp something and that there are two types of talents mental and physical, followed by the notion that to grow ones talent one has to practise it then showing the uses of talents and how they can lead to a human civilization that can become more innovative hence a society that follows its talents will be an advanced society.

Copyright © 2018 by Mandla Msibi
All rights reserved.


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