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How to be a Genius
What is it that defines a genius? Can philosophy help us to answer this question?
Hegel subdivided the realm of absolute spirit into three pursuits, being art, religion and philosophy. It was only through excelling in these activities that elevated man above the beast. Although Nietzsche was rarely in agreement with Hegel in the area of genius he echoed these sentiments, claiming that only some philosophers, saints and artists exceeded the potential of an animal. The inclusion of "sainthood" as a trait of genius from the mind of the man who wrote "the antichrist" may seem a little hypocritical but I think he was referring to the ascetic lifestyle rather than any belief system.
The message is obvious - 9 out of 10 philosophers generally agree that artistic achievement, philosophical acuity and exceptional moral behavior are the criteria for living life as an exceptional human being. But do these attributes truly represent a universal measure of genius for the human species? If our notions of art, philosophy and morality are as malleable as our shifting cultural identity how can we claim that any human values are universal? Is this just the the notorious vanity of proponents of philosophy simply defining their own criteria for genius based on the attributes that just happen to be the values that philosophers are most likely to possess?
This essay is an examination of the phenomenon of the cult of genius that ultimately proposes the premise that genius has more to do with the psychology of us rather than the genius of them.
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