07 November 2014

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The Line Between Genius and Insanity

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: The Line between Genius and Insanity.

Although it is not quite clear what the philosophical import this
question is, philosophy can certainly help us to sort out the language
mess of this words we usually use in our day to day conversion. I tried
very hard to see the philosophy from the fog in my few paragraphs and
Ruel seem to have had the same issues:

Hello Lawrence,
The voted topic for Sunday's PhiloMadrid discussion in quite
philosophically unhandy and I had some difficulty writing a quality
essay. Nevertheless, I came up with one and here is the link:

See you on Sunday,

The Line Between Genius and Insanity

There is no reason to assume that there is a sequential process between
genius and insanity. One does not border the other and it is certainly
not necessary nor sufficient that insanity may be associated with
genius. Both terms are at best colloquial concepts of every-day language.

Insanity in medicine (medical insanity) and jurisprudence (legal
insanity) are so specific that there is practically no relationship
between the technical meanings of the word and the everyday use of the
word. Indeed, we are more likely to use words like crazy, idiotic,
lunatic, half backed, loony etc etc. We might use insane in polite
society if required. Of course, in the context of the question, we might
associate genius with eccentric, strange, unsocial, or absent minded but
none of these terms imply some mental disease. And mental disease does
not in and of itself preclude someone from displaying exceptional
intelligence and inventiveness.

People we call genius tend to be people we were taught at school to be
genius or maybe by our peers. But once again not only is this term
colloquial but also subjective; someone who does not agree that Kant
might still give him the respect Kant deserves but wouldn't revere him
as a genius philosopher. A modern readymade genius would probably be
Einstein. But it wasn't until 1919 that the marvels of Einstein's
discoveries and the Man himself became world famous when Sir Arthur
Eddington, against all racial prejudice Einstein suffered for being
German at the time, decided to test Einstein's theory of gravity. And as
they say the rest is history.

However, whist the discoveries of geniuses may or may not have eternal
validity, and notwithstanding that genius has more to do with social
snobbery rather than universal standing, one thing is clear about these
exceptional people: they all resisted the suffocating effect of the
conventional and the status quo. They all did their thing despite the
disapproval of the established conservative society. Einstein's genius
is probably his ability to survive the lunacy and distractive programme
of the education system at the time he was growing up in Germany and

Maybe, metaphorically speaking, those who manage to survive the
destructive harshness of the status quo and then go on to flourish might
be classified as genius. But those who allow themselves to be
manipulated and infected by the destructive powers of the status quo
might be classified as insane. But I don't see any dividing line here,
but a separation and divide one expects to find between free people and

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The Line Between
Genius and Insanity

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