(OPE-L) Re: a genius?

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed May 14 2003 - 07:25:57 EDT

Gary asked on Tuesday, May 13:

> I agree the word is overused, but how would you define "genius", Jerry?

Thanks for asking, Gary.  It made me realize upon further reflection
that although 'genius' is a very overused word, I was using the term
in perhaps an overly restrictive way.

Although one can look to a dictionary for a definition, further
examination reveals that how genius is defined is a very old and
controversial subject of debate -- particularly in the fields of
philosophy, psychology, and literature (for some of those different
understandings,  see http://www.kaapeli.fi/flf/kuisma.htm ).

I am broadly sympathetic to many of the perceptions of 'Willie
Gaffer' about our current cultural understanding of genius (see
http://www.wesoomi.com/forum/genius.html ).  Upon further
reflection, though, I realized that my own highly restrictive definition
is most likely a reflection of my anti-authoritarianism (which was
discussed last year in the "De omnibus dubitandum" thread).
*For Marxists*, I think that such a skepticism about 'genius' is
highly desirable given the long history of Marxist cults and hero-
worshiping.  That is, I think that *politically* it is the best stance
to take towards others since it encourages us to advance a more
critical perspective towards those figures. Thus, *even if* Marx
(or Lenin or Trotsky or Gramsci, or Sraffa, etc.) was a genius,
our ability to critically assess those figures is enhanced if we do
*not* consider him to be a genius.

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: another interesting 'genius' site:

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