Monday 1 December 2014

Explaining why modernity is so aggressive against genius



JP said...

In addition to what you said, there is the dogma of equality, which insists that we are all "equal" above the neck and we can all be geniuses with the right teachers and enough time in the classroom. If someone seems to be a genius, why they must have enjoyed some unfair advantage!

The maldistribution of genius across the races and ethnic groups is clearly at odds with PC dogma about racial equality. Easier to deny that there is such a thing as genius than to believe (the obvious truth) that it is maldistributed across the races and ethnic groups because it has a genetic component.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - Agreed. But that would not stop people stealing and misattributing the products of genius. But the first response to genuine breakthroughs is sticking fingers in the ears and humming; then, if the disturbance persists, lashing out. And this only applies to real breakthroughs (which are pretty few anyway) - our elites, by contrast, love to hype submediocore people, ideas and inventions as fake breakthroughs. At some level they apparently recognize that it is the real breakthroughs which are dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of the terminology, but there is, as they say, a 'material basis', too.

As disruptive as a genius could be from the 6th Century BC to the 19th Century AD, his work might ensure those who would have otherwise cut him down got to eat over the winter, or did not die of rabies.

Now that we squatters on Man's Estate are relatively fat and happy (if only as measured by the least common denominator), we feel in our guts the cost of creativity more acutely than its benefits, whose margains look rather thin when you, if not your children, are all but guaranteed to live past your three score and ten in any case.

Our well-fed, comfortable, healthy and in-the-moment generation goes not see the value in foregoing the rents it extracts in the present from the future by suppressing genius, which it can only see as destructive.


Anonymous said...

Do you think the people in charge of CD players wouldn't have violently fought to outlaw and abuse the people who made mp3's if they knew what was coming?

What about cable companies and streaming video like netflix?

A lot of people have a large stake in stymying progress. With modern communication and the corporate sponsored government, it is more possible than ever to destroy new threatening competitors.

In addition to being a genius when innovating, you also now need to be a genius now to figure out how, or be lucky enough, to circumvent the firing squad when you have a grand new idea.

While the vast majority of people will always be rent seekers because we don't have much to contribute to advancing civilization, we need to not destroy the movers and shakers from the get-go.

It's like the two theories of histories: The "Great Man Theory" and the "Inevitability of Institutions and Progress" theory. While there is some truth to both, we are in a time where the latter is very strong, and does what it can to hinder the former.