genius

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genius,

in Roman religion, guardian spirit of a man, a family, or a state. In some instances, a place, a city, or an institution had its genius. As the guardian spirit of an individual, the genius (corresponding to the Greek demon) was largely the force of one's natural desires. The genius of the paterfamilias was honored in familial worship as a household god and was thought to perpetuate a family through many generations. Notable achievements or high intellectual powers of an individual were attributed to his genius, and ultimately a man of achievements was said to have genius or to be a genius.

Genius

 

the highest level of manifestation of man’s creative forces. The term “genius” is used both to indicate a man’s creative ability and to evaluate the results of his activities. Assuming an innate capability to productive endeavors in some field, genius, as opposed to talent, not only represents the highest degree of giftedness but also is connected with the creation of qualitatively new works and with the discovery of previously unknown creative methods. The activities of genius are achieved in a definite historical context of life in human society, on which genius draws for its creativity.

In the psychology of creativity, genius is studied as a function of individual personal characteristics, such as psychological make-up and abilities, and of various factors affecting creativity. From the psychological point of view, genius cannot be considered a particular personality type. Various attempts to isolate a particular general psychological or psychopathological feature of genius have been unsatisfactory: geniuses exhibit significant individual differences in giftedness, character, culture, interests, habits, and so on. The creative process in geniuses does not differ in principle from the creative process in other gifted persons. A number of concepts of genius, beginning with that of C. Lombroso, postulated a connection between genius and psychological imbalance. This theory did not receive general acceptance because, while disharmony in spiritual life or a proclivity to disharmony is found in many persons of genius, it is not invariably the companion of genius.

Historical concepts of the nature of genius and its evaluation are related to a general understanding of the creative process. The ancients (Plato and, later, Neoplatonists) viewed genius as a type of irrational, “divine inspiration.” With the Renaissance (Leonardo da Vinci, G. Vasari, J. Scaliger) came the cult of genius as creative individuality, which reached its apogee in the romantic period, as exemplified by the preromantic Sturm und Drang in Germany, romanticism, and the theories, evolved from romanticism and characterized by the opposition of genius and the masses, of T. Carlyle and F. Neitzsche. The concept of genius in the contemporary meaning of the word developed in the 18th century. It became a fundamental aesthetic concept in A. Shaftesbury’s system: genius creates in a like manner to the forces of nature; its creations are original, in contrast to imitative artists. I. Kant also emphasized the originality and naturalness of creative genius: genius is the “natural endowment of the soul …, through which nature gives order to art” (Soch., vol. 5, Moscow, 1966, p. 323). F. Schiller described the nature of genius through the concept of naïveté as the instinctive following of artless nature and the ability to grasp the world spontaneously.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, psychological (including psychiatric), sociopsychological, and sociological investigations have been made into various aspects of genius and creativity.

REFERENCES

Gruzenberg, S. O. Genii i tvorchestvo. Leningrad, 1924.
Zholi, G. Psikhologiia velikikh liudei. St. Petersburg, 1894.
Ostwald, W. Velikie liudi. St. Petersburg, 1910. (Translated from German.)
Wolf, H. Versuch einer Geschichte des Geniebegriffes. Heidelberg, 1923.
Genetic Studies of Genius, 2nd ed., vols. 1-4. Edited by L. M. Terman. [Stanford, Calif.] 1926-47.
Kretschmer, E. Geniale Menschen, 5th ed. Berlin, 1958.

Genius

See also Wisdom.
Aquinas, St. Thomas
(1225–1274) preeminent mind of medieval church. [Eur. Hist.: Bishop, 273–274]
Aristotle
(384–322 B. C.) famous Greek philosopher of a priori reasoning. [Gk. Hist.: NCE, 147]
Aronnax, Prof.
scholarly mental giant; Capt. Nemo’s captive guest. [Fr. Lit.: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea]
Jean-Christophe
musical prodigy who, in an adventurous life, becomes a world-famous musician. [Fr. Lit.: Romain Rolland Jean-Christophe; Magill I, 439]
Leverkühn, Adrian
a composer who imagines he has made a pact with the devil, and achieves greatness. [Ger. Lit.: Thomas Mann Doctor Faustus]
Nemo, Captain
epitome of the genius in science fiction; inventor and creator of fabulous submarine, Nautilus. [Fr. Lit.: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea]

genius

1. Roman myth
a. the guiding spirit who attends a person from birth to death
b. the guardian spirit of a place, group of people, or institution
2. Arabic myth a demon; jinn
References in classic literature ?
Palfrey, like other geniuses, wrought by instinct rather than by rule, and possessed no receipts--indeed, despised all people who used them, observing that people who pickled by book, must pickle by weights and measures, and such nonsense; as for herself, her weights and measures were the tip of her finger and the tip of her tongue, and if you went nearer, why, of course, for dry goods like flour and spice, you went by handfuls and pinches, and for wet, there was a middle-sized jug-- quite the best thing whether for much or little, because you might know how much a teacupful was if you'd got any use of your senses, and you might be sure it would take five middle-sized jugs to make a gallon.
Yet such men as he are reared here and there in every generation of our peasant artisans--with an inheritance of affections nurtured by a simple family life of common need and common industry, and an inheritance of faculties trained in skilful courageous labour: they make their way upwards, rarely as geniuses, most commonly as painstaking honest men, with the skill and conscience to do well the tasks that lie before them.
To this proposition Richard usually assented; and when rival geniuses who monopolize not only all the reputation but most of the money of a neighborhood, are of a mind, it is not uncommon to see them lead the fashion, even in graver matters.
It resulted from this, that, according to the custom of all superior geniuses, these two men flattered themselves intra pectus, with being in the right against all who found fault with them.
I like looking at geniuses, and listening to beautiful people.
Your geniuses are all arrant asses -- the greater the genius the greater the ass -- and to this rule there is no exception whatever.