Ancient paintings can tell us a lot about a refined personality and its capacity to think on multiple levels. The Painting School of Athens by the Italian painter Raphael includes nearly all of the world's greatest philosophers in one communal setting. The painting currently sits within the Vatican and is a reminder of the benefits of philosophy in society. More importantly, it also teaches us about how the great minds during that time worked and how they can be used as a mental reference point for high capacity leadership.
The painting is one of a group of four of which each represents four distinct branches of knowledge that include "Seeking Knowledge of Causes", "Knowledge of Things Divine" "Divine Inspiration" and "To Each What is Due". Those categories correspond to the mental development of philosophy, religion, poetry, and law (Gombrich, 1975).
Philosophy: The science before modern science that included anything from what we would view philosophy today to mathematics. The ability to be analytical and inquisitive about our world.
Religion: Understanding that the world is connected and has a moral code. The ability to think of the greater spiritual forces of life and nature and our responsibilities in it.
Poetry: Creating new things that enlighten us to what is beautiful in the world using intuition and inspiration. The ability to be creative as shown through activities such as art, poetry, music, and theater.
Law: The legal and moral aspects of living in a society. The ability to think about fairness and just weight with others.
Under these pathways to knowledge we can say that a truly developed person should be scientific, spiritual, creative and seek justice in his/her actions. A very tall order for most people who are so inherently focused on their daily needs. As man develops, these four branches of knowledge he will come to find the similarities in each and how they influence each other and create different ways of looking at a problem.
Ancient art tells a lot of ourselves and highly developed people and their abilities to think on different levels. These earlier ideas made their way into how we view modern leadership and human development. Psychological principles still maintain many of these ideas and find them useful for gauging what a fully functioning person looks like.
As people develop their thinking changes and the way in which they view and act in the world also changes. Hiring executives with developed capacities also means they will be more independent, less likely to engage in unethical behavior, and more capable of completing the job using their leadership abilities. While ancient art seems like things of the past they have a major influence on how we view ourselves today.
Gombissh, E. (1975). Raphel's Stanza della Segnatura and the Nature of its Symbolism in Symbolic Images: Studies in the Art of Renaissance. (London: Phaidon, 1975).