Friday, 20 March 2015

What can we, should we, do without geniuses?

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World historical geniuses have all-but disappeared from Western civilization - that is is simply a factual observation.

Either we can consider the disappearance due to a decline in intelligence and or creativity and or motivation; or we can consider that the deity has withdrawn genius from the West (because we have so often corrupted and misused it); or both.

But what could we, what should we, do about it?

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The problem is that the problems of Western civilization are large, yet we have not enough geniuses to solve them (or else the geniuses are still there; but now unknown, un-empowered, ignored and/or suppressed).

In other words: the problems are significant and multiple, the problems need to be solved - but they cannot be solved at a large scale because we lack the people to do it.

Therefore it seems that the problems can only be solved partially, for instance, melioration and damage limitation rather than cure; or genuine solutions but only on a local and restricted scale.  

In a major-genius-free world, then those who are put forward (hyped and trumpeted), or put themselves forward, as world historical geniuses will be fakes of one sort or another.

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The lesson may be analogous or akin to the Small is Beautiful, or 'intermediate technology' message of EF Schumacher: awareness of the need for a smaller scale, a more human scale: more local, more understandable... a preference for the partial and piecemeal.

And a rejection of gigantism and always-growing institutions; the massiveness of media; the world of master narratives, international panaceas, globalization of attitudes; the winner-take-all economy of cash, fame and kudos; and the strategic interconnection, interdependence and mutual subordination of everything.

In a world without genius; either we cultivate our gardens, or else nobody will cultivate any gardens; hence gardens will not be cultivated.

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3 comments:

Arrgh said...

What about the educational system going to hell? What about your own idea about accumulated mutations? Generations of unhealthy idiots breeding like rabbits and sending their kids to the current public schools wouldn't suppress genius output?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Arrgh - Indeed, there are multiple explanations at several different levels/ assumptions of analysis.

Syahidah and Valentine said...

I agree that genius has largely "evaporated". However, I am certain, from personal observation that some remain. The tragedy, however, is that, far from being welcomed, nurtured and supported...such people must struggle to gain access to the resources, situations and positions in life, necessary to make any significant impact on the societies which neglect them. So not only is modern society no longer a rich source of genius...but it is behaving rather poorly towards the scattered few, that genetic good fortune still throws up, occasionally.

As for "fake geniuses" in the public eye...it is not difficult to think of quite a number. The problem here is that people no longer really understand what a true genius is like. In such a vacuum of actual acquaintance, it is easy to hype up a mental nonentity, to "genius" status. This falsely acquired adulation does nothing to address the basic problem: the dearth of actual geniuses...whether acknowledged or ignored. I join you, in fearing for the future of not just the OK...but for the whole future of modern civilization. Without profound problem solvers...profound problems shall be our undoing.