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Passions in Poetry

is genius born? or made? what exactly is the definition of a genius?

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anonymous albert ?
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0 posted 04-17-2001 12:52 AM       View Profile for anonymous albert ?   Email anonymous albert ?   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for anonymous albert ?

ok everyone since no one seems to want to post anything i'll post something....

"is genius born ? or made ? what exactly is the definition of a genius ?"

thought it would be interesting hearing people's thoughts on this...yea and i'll post my comments later in the thread....

[This message has been edited by anonymous albert ? (edited 04-17-2001).]

Stephanos
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1 posted 04-17-2001 10:37 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

genius-  (Websters)-  1 " An exceptional natural capacity of intellect, esp. as shown in creative and original work in science, art, music, etc..." 2  "a person having such a capacity"


This is the basic dictionary explanation, though I think much more could be said in description of what the elements of "genius" are.

Is genius born or made?

I think both.

Consider the question put differently or stated as several questions...

1) Are people born with differing levels of potential which are at least partially independent of the effects of their surrounding environments and life choices?

2) Does environment play a large role in the development of ablilities, talents, mental aptitude, etc...?

3) Do choices (acts of the will) play a large role in the development of the same?

4) Are there aspects of the development of "genius" which we may not even begin to understand?


These are just questions to ponder, but I feel like the answers to all of the above are yes.  So why does it have to be an "either or" question?  Maybe the question "which is more important, nature or nurture"? might give us a more satisfying answer.  And to this I am not sure.  I'll have to think on that one and my brain is too tired right now.  Maybe I'll be back later.

Stephen.
fractal007
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2 posted 04-18-2001 04:51 AM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

I agree with Stephanos.  I've never really liked the way so many people seem to blame everything from being good in school to being fat, on DNA.  This seems to me to be a copout.  "I can't help it because it's in my genes."  

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend of mine while on a farie.  There were some mennonites running about in the wind, trying to get to a washroom, or to the passenger salon.  I don't mean to poke fun at mennonites, but the conversation I had illustrates why I agree with Stephanos.

I asked my friend what he thought I would be like if I'd been raised mennonite.[the mennonites here often shun questioning of authority and just about anything else that they believe, just for some background info] He said that I would likely never question anything and would not be as curious as I am now.  

I am still unsure about the latter portion of the statement, but I do agree a lot with it.  It seems that culture would definitely affect the development of genius.  But this should not be taken as a blanket statement.  There have been several geniuses who were raised in oppressive cultures/families.  Beathoven for example was regularly boxed by his father because he could not play the piano like Mozart could.  

The typical darwinian response to the question of genius is that there is likely some gene somewhere which can contribute to it, just as there is for any other tendancy in a life form which can be beneficial to it and it's species.  But once again, I do not fully agree.  Yes, DNA plays a large part in the development of human beings.  However, I do not really think that we are mere slaves to our fate and to our genes.  

There seems to be a very holistic nature to our existence as human beings.  Wise ones often benefit the lives of countless people.  Great religious leaders such as Buddha, Christ and Mohammed, have benefitted many lives.  Perhaps they were geniuses.  Genius has nothing to do with high IQ.  It is more about having a notable aptitude for something.  It has been found in many studies that compositions by composers such as Mozart and Beathoven can actually stimulate mathematical performance.  Great poets have often challenged us all to consider the very nature of our existence, our beliefs, our ideas and our actions.  

Biologically, it may very well be that genius is a new stage in our evolution as a species.  But spiritually and socially, we all have the things which we are good at, and those which we are not good at.  That is what makes us so unique as a species.  There is so much INDIVIDUALITY among us.  Biologically it benefits us because when we are at peace with each other, there will always be some expert or another who will be able to remedy whatever problem might come into our path.  Spiritually and socially it benefits us because there will always be potential for growth.

"If history is to change, let it change. If the world is to be destroyed, so be it. If my fate is to die, I must simply laugh"

-- Magus

Brad
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3 posted 04-18-2001 09:19 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

If someone has a genius level IQ (I've heard differing numbers here but let's say 160)but fails to reach his or her potential, is he or she still regarded as a genius? If you have an aptitude for, say, music but never play music, does it mean that you are still a musical genius?

Is this how we use the word?

It's a very interesting question.

Like that other mystical word 'talent', 'genius' is used in many different ways but always after the fact. Only after someone has been recognized for some work as influential, paradigmatic, ground breaking or whatever. What's interesting is that a genius's fortune is often open to the tastes and manners of each historical epoch. As a result, I'm not sure that nature or nurture or both necessarily determines 'genius' so much as it is socially determined. Socially may be the wrong word here because society has multiple levels and inherent conflicts already there. Joyce's Finnegan's Wake didn't impress Ezra Pound. Newton and Einstein are often called geniuses but many would argue that such theories were already there. Somebody would have figured them out if they hadn't.

What about an evil genius? Hitler? Chinghis Khan (don't say this to a Mongolian by the way. To them, he's a national hero  ), Rasputin?

So how about this: genius is determined when other people recognize that you have influenced them and others? That you have changed them in some kind of profound way.

Brad
Ron
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4 posted 04-18-2001 11:44 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Aren't you suggesting, Brad, that I only have blue eyes if enough people tell me I have blue eyes?
Stephanos
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5 posted 04-19-2001 01:45 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

Is genius determined by society or by the individual?

You could argue both ways.  As one might  argue that socio-cultural perceptions determine if someone is "genius" or not, one may also argue that excellence of attainment, ablility, intelliegence etc., will always impose itself upon the consciousness of any given culture.  The evidence of the second view might be that virtually all cultures have recognized "genius", though admittedly in different ways.  Some people and their achievements force themselves upon social backdrops and change them forever.  That's why one of the hallmarks of genius is originality and the breaking of boundaries.    I'm not saying that it's one way or the other, it's all intertwined.  But I do tend to think that inbred qualities coupled with favorable conditions and choices/ attitudes (nature and nurture) are more determinate of "genius" than the social climate which is often like a dull canvas over which a vivid "genius" can be recognized by contrast.  

a very interesting question.

jenni
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6 posted 04-19-2001 03:59 AM       View Profile for jenni   Email jenni   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jenni

we use the term 'genius' in different contexts, don't we?  someone's a genius in the sense that they have some remarkable capacity or ability at something, like in stephanos' first definition above, and i think that's really what you're talking about, brad... mozart was a genius, but he wouldn't be considered one, and we'd never know anything about him, if had lived 800 years earlier, or had grown up in a society that didn't value music.

but the term is also used for just a really smart person, or, as my dictionary puts it, "specifically, a person with a high intelligence quotient."  and i think this applies whether the person does anything about it or not.  how does anyone know this person's a genius?  IQ testing, which is pretty common these days in our society.  get a high score, you're a genius, even if the only things you have a profound effect on are the springs in your sofa, lol.  you hear people say that from time to time, "so-and-so's a genius, he has an IQ of 180," even though it's almost always in the context of "you'd never know it by looking at him," lol.

thinking about this a little more, actually, we use the word 'genius' both as a label ("einstein was a genius") and as a descriptor of some quality a person possesses ("bill clinton has a genius for politics") whether or not the person has a high IQ.  in fact, sometimes we use it in total disregard to intellectual capacity ("mary's dog has a genius for getting into trouble").  but i think the most ordinary usage is as a label for someone with a high IQ, regardless of whether the person reaches his potential.

and the nature/nurture thing, of course it's both, lol, it always is.  

jenni
Brad
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7 posted 04-19-2001 04:49 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I don't have time to address everybody yet (people make me work sometimes, why do they do that?) but I couldn't let Ron's comment go without sharing an anecdote:

Waiting to cross the street with a former Japanese girlfriend, she said, "It's blue, come on, let's go."

"Blue?"

"Yeah, let's go."

"It's green."

"Blue."

"Green."

"Blue!"

"Green!"

This was conducted in English.

The color of 'go' in both countries is more or less the same and I think it could be pinpointed through comparative examples that we are actually, more or less, seeing the same color unless one was color blind (also, easily determined through comparative examples).

So, yeah, 'blue' eyes are socially determined.  

Ron, you would probably argue that this is just semantics (and you just have to put that 'just' in there don't you?).

However, even if we accept that we're seeing, more or less, the same thing, semantics have real consequences.

I don't have the exact quote at the moment but here's a quick paraphrase from Ezra Pound:

"We started with swelled heads and ended with swelled feet."

Can't remember if he said 'swelled' or 'swollen'.  

Brad
anonymous albert ?
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8 posted 04-19-2001 07:16 PM       View Profile for anonymous albert ?   Email anonymous albert ?   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for anonymous albert ?

thanks everyone for considering this topic and posting your comments...

and i'll get to the topic of this thread.

in my thoughts i believe genius is born
as some might say is made.

i strongly disagree on that.
because i believe
that geniuses are born
but can be made into an acknowledged level by being made by its surroundings and influences as a intellectual/intelligent person may develop high knowledge but does that make him a genius?

i don't believe so a genius is as some said strongly marked by high intelligence and originality.

so in conclusion of the topic..
i think that genius is born but can be made by a better understanding level of ones genius by developing as to become made... on the genius that was already there to begin with...

so i guess it can be both "nature nad nuture" but only in a different concept.

and on the iq thing...those who take it in the first place are not inteligent..whatever the score comes out..and high iq determinds genius? i just don't like that thought at all.
do you guys think.. that is the only way to determind if one is a genius or not..

one more thing i think genius and talent are getting mixed up with each other cause they are..
you think?

and on the topic the main goal was not the "definition of genius" but "what exactly is a genius".. that makes him a genius is it the way he thinks as to say in words or is it the way he thinks about things,
getting knowledge from books,
or getting knowledge from one's perceptions and experiences?

well.. thats it for now..i'll probably reply again later.

thanks again..............................


...?
  

[This message has been edited by anonymous albert ? (edited 04-19-2001).]

Moon Dust
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9 posted 04-19-2001 10:18 PM       View Profile for Moon Dust   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Moon Dust

I think a genius has the talent to connect with so many people in the world and can work out what the people actully want. Who love to to learn because learning becomes like walking. A genius has changed and made this world what it is today they dont have to be famous or well known. They win the wars, they come up with new scientific and medical breaktrus. They create the entertainment and the ideas, music, films stories, art. And these are the poeple who really deseve our respect.  

Don't ever give in, if you do you've lost everything you've ever had and everything you hope to gain, but if you carry on your already winning.

Tony Di Bart
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10 posted 04-20-2001 09:12 AM       View Profile for Tony Di Bart   Email Tony Di Bart   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tony Di Bart

Genius?  

Yes we have dictionary definitions, personal definitions, IQ's etc.  First, IQ has nothing to do with being a genius.  It is a good start but not a guarentee for genius. Inteligence althought linked to genius is not 100% responsible for it.

It is my pesonal opinion that a genius is set apart from the rest of everyone by one thing.  That one quality that makes a person a genius is that they see something where others see nothing.  Therfore, genius has more to do with vision than with intelect.  

The cavemen, who first used fire, weapons, and tools were also geniuses because they saw the world in a diffrent light.  

We have all said " That was so simple why did I not see that?" That is genius at work, that is the person who first saw what was so simple. So genius is more the ability to rid ourselves of our conditioning than anything else.

budu, budu, budu,
That's it that's all folks.

See ya


jbouder
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11 posted 04-20-2001 12:41 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Ron:

The behaviorist would concur that you only have blue eyes because the people around you agree that you have blue eyes.  The word that describes that particular feature of your eyes (the color) only has meaning (besides personal meaning) in particular social contexts.

Everyone:

I think the operative word is "aptitude" if you describe a person as a "genius".  An act an be ingenius that is not performed by a person conventially regarded as a genius.  Many "average" people become quite accomplished through hard work and perseverance.

Brad, are you familiar with the Japanese legend of the duel between Miyomoto Musashi and Kojiro Mifume?  Musashi was a Japanese swordsman who, according to legend, obtained great proficiency in his art through extremely hard work and dedication to that art.  Kojiro was regarded as a "genius" in the art.  When the two finally dueled, Musashi ended up winning but only (and literally) by a hair's breadth.

I think the message is that genius is a tremendous advantage but is not efficacious.  Experience and discipline are equally advantageous.

I suppose my point is, don't get hung up on what "genius" is.  It is only a label that describes certain attributes and is not a prerequisite to great achievement.

Jim
Ron
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12 posted 04-20-2001 08:16 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I would never say "just" semantics, but I think Brad and Jim are trying very hard to push my question into that arena. Blue isn't just a label everyone agrees will mean the same thing, but rather is light reflected at a very specific wavelength. It is quantifiable. Society can argue all day that my eyes are brown, but that isn't going to change the wavelength.

I'm not at all certain that genius is as quantifiable as the electromagnetic spectrum, but neither will I be easily convinced it is determined by society (and, yes, I'm divorcing the label or popular perception from the reality). The fact we can't measure genius as accurately as we measure light (or even agree on a definition) may be only a limitation of our instruments. Maybe scientists will someday run a DNA test on Einstein and "certify" him as a genius with the same precision they now measure the wavelength of blue light. Maybe not.

I believe genius is born and can only be lessened by environment, never increased. (I also believe most people never realize their genetic potential.) But if genius is born, then achievement is cultured, and in that sense, I certainly agree with Jim. It doesn't matter if someone is a genius if they don't accomplish great things. And if they do accomplish great things, it no longer matters whether they did it through genius or dedication.
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13 posted 04-21-2001 03:13 PM       View Profile for Moon Dust   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Moon Dust

Ron your a genius

Don't ever give in, if you do you've lost everything you've ever had and everything you hope to gain, but if you carry on your already winning.

anonymous albert ?
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14 posted 04-21-2001 06:28 PM       View Profile for anonymous albert ?   Email anonymous albert ?   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for anonymous albert ?

hahaha...i'm sure some people in here might be a genius..but this wasn't a post to find who was a genius but what is a genius..

...?

death is not the greatest loss in life. the greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. -norman cousins

Brad
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15 posted 04-22-2001 09:03 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ron may indeed be a genius, but he's not accurate here. Blue, hazel, yellow -- color -- is not a specific light wavelength. Color is the result of three variables that interact with each other. His eyes have a specific absorption spectrum, they are not blue -- or rather blue is not an innate characteristic of his eyes. In order for that specific absorption spectrum to show the color blue, he also has to have the correct emission spectrum (ordinary, everyday light), and the correct spectral response system (eyes). Change any one of these enough and the color changes or disappears.  

I was a little confused by your genetic potential argument until I realized that you meant that provided we don't genetically change ourselves into something else and provided that we don't use some type of help, there are limits to what we can actually do.

I agree. I doubt if anyone will ever run the 100 meter dash in under a second.

This also brings up the movie Gattaca. A movie no doubt designed to show the insurmountable human spirit against the hard, cold facts of science. I don't worry much about that human spirit, I thought it was a rebuke of certainty -- we all make mistakes.  

Lynne has dark hazel eyes by the way. She takes after her father.  

Brad
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16 posted 04-22-2001 02:23 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Not to get too far off topic, but I'll admit I grossly oversimplified color theory, which is far more complex than simple wavelengths. I'm not at all sure, however, where you pulled your three criteria from, Brad. When you talk about absorption and emission spectrum (additive versus subtractive, and not easily mixed), we're in the same ball park, but when you throw in spectral response you're getting into perception and not definition. If you change either of the two former characteristics you also change the wavelength (or, more correctly, the spectrum) and thus the color. But if you change the response you may change the color for one person, but not for the Standard Observer.

Standard Observer? Color is the perceptual result of light in the visible region of the spectrum, having wavelengths in the region of 400 nm (nanometers) to 700 nm. Radiance (physical power) is expressed in a spectral power distribution (SPD), with 31 components each representing a 10 nm band. There are exactly three types of color photoreceptor in the human eyes, so exactly three numerical components are necessary and sufficient to describe a color. This is the concern of the science of colorimetry. In 1931, the Commission Internationale de L'Éclairage (CIE) adopted standard curves for a hypothetical Standard Observer. These curves specify how an SPD can be transformed into a set of three numbers that specifies a color.

My oversimplification deals with spectral versus non-spectral colors. A spectral color is one which the eye can perceive based on a single wavelength of light. Violet is a spectral color, but purple (a combination of red and blue, whose corresponding cone sensitivity curves do not overlap) is a non-spectral color. White is also a non-spectral color; it is perceived when all three cone types are stimulated by light.



Yea, it's a bit more complex than I suggested. But I don't think that, in any way, changes my point. Color is quantifiable, whether you do it through wavelengths, spectrum, or CIE criteria, and isn't based on public opinion. One might argue that the label attached to the color (blue) is a statistical mean derived from the population, but that same argument applies to ALL labels. A dog is a dog only because everyone agrees to call it that. But eating the wrong mushrooms won't change it into a spider, even if the perception does change, and it certainly won't change the quantifiable characteristics of the animal.

To argue the origins of genius, I think we need the same kind of quantifiable definition, whether it be IQ scores or creativity (my preference) or something entirely different. If genius is a function of intelligence, it is almost certainly nature (genetical). If it is "a different way of looking at things," it is quite possibly nurture (environmental). If genius is defined by accomplishments then, again, it may not really matter.

In one sense, I suspect a color analogy is particularly apt - because, like color, genius is probably the culmination of several characteristics.
Brad
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17 posted 04-23-2001 03:48 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ron,
You jumped ahead of me here. That was my next step -- that quantification then requires international agreement (not the same thing as popular opinion but in the same ballpark).

Intelligence is already quantified (IQ) but it isn't as accepted as color quantification (as seen by some of the responses here) but Jenni pointed that many people use genius within that quantified context whether they agree with IQ or not (I don't know if I'd call that ordinary usage though -- ordinary usage, to my mind, is simply hyperbole: Gee, that was really good, you're a genius).

If, however, Jenni is correct, we don't have a quantification problem. We have an uncontroversial quantification versus controversial quantification problem.

I'm pretty sure that there have at least been attempts to quantify creativity; I'll have to check on that but nevertheless that is also controversial.

If that is not correct and it has something to do with being the first and being influential, then I'm not sure quantification really solves things.  Quantification involves predictability and this definition of genius would necessarily imply unpredictability.  

Still, very interesting post, Ron. I learned a lot (my tripartite definition comes from Nick Herbert), but I don't think it proves that quantification solves anything unless it is accepted by a community. Perhaps in another thread, you can explain to me how one can dismiss perception so easily. Color was around before we knew light was a wave and I thought my anecdote already showed that people have and are using different ways to make color distinctions.

Your point about labels is, of course, correct but what I'm interested in is why certain labels and not others are used.

I'm sure we would both consider a poodle and a St. Bernard to be dogs (even without genetic knowledge).

However, the average Japanese person calls a whale a fish -- at least when they speak in Japanese.

Different assumptions, different labels.  In turn, I think those labels can both open and limit thought at the same time.

Brad

PS Jim, I didn't know that anecdote and at first thought it was from the Heike Monogatari. Okay, I was off by more than a few hundred years. I think it's time to go back to school.  
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18 posted 04-23-2001 12:21 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad:

I am not familiar with the Heike Monogatari.  If the historical setting of Heike was anywhere close to the Ugetsu Monogatari, you were not off by so many years ... the setting for my anecdote was 17th century Japan. It is actually from Ieji Yoshikawa's "Musashi" series ... my first and most memorable introduction to the subject of feudal Japan.  Great stuff there.

Jim
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19 posted 05-02-2001 02:41 AM       View Profile for anonymous albert ?   Email anonymous albert ?   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for anonymous albert ?

no more thoughts

...?

if i die before i wake , i pray the lord my soul will take-"when thugs cry"

Brad
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20 posted 05-03-2001 08:14 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Actually, I kind of thought there was a consensus agreement here. While many of us view genius through our own prisms: my interest in social construction, Ron's in the harder sciences, Others' in individual orignality (not the same thing), I thought Jim's comments were what we all, more or less, agreed on (and if you know his story, you know why he would focus on that).

Whether or not you're a genius is less important than what you do.

Brad
 
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