For we have now come to a stage of human culture in which we have compartments of knowledge but not knowledge itself; specialization but no integration; specialists but no philosophers of human wisdom. This over-specialization of knowledge is not very different from the over-specialization in a Chinese Imperial kitchen. Once during the collapse of a dynasty, a rich Chinese official was able to secure as his cook a maid who had escaped from the palace kitchen. Proud of her, he issued invitations for his friends to come and taste a dinner prepared by one he thought an Imperial cook. As the day was approaching, he asked the maid to prepare a royal dinner. The maid replied that she couldn't prepare a dinner.Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, Reynal & Hitchcock (New York: 1938) p. 414.
"What did you do, then?" asked the official.
"Oh, I helped make the patties for the dinner," she replied.
"Well, then, go ahead and make some nice patties for my guests."
To his consternation the maid announced: "Oh, no, I can't make patties. I specialized in chopping up the onions for the stuffing of the patties of the Imperial dinner."
Some such condition obtains today in the field of human knowledge and academic scholarship.