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By Darrin M. McMahon

Genius. The notice connotes a nearly unworldly energy: the ability to create, to understand common secrets and techniques, even to ruin. As well known highbrow historian Darrin McMahon explains in Divine Fury, the idea that of genius could be traced again to antiquity, while males of serious perception have been considered recommended by way of demons. the fashionable suggestion of genius emerged in rigidity with a starting to be trust in human equality; contesting the concept that each one are created equivalent, geniuses served to dramatize the exception of awesome members now not ruled through usual legislation. this present day, the belief of genius has develop into cheapened—rock stars and soccer coaches earn the time period with possible a similar ease as astrophysicists and philosophers—yet our enduring fascination with it displays the wishes, wishes, and fears of standard people.

The first entire historical past of this mysterious but foundational idea, Divine Fury follows the fortunes of genius from Socrates to Napoleon to Einstein and past, examining its democratization, disappearance, and capability rebirth.

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Divine Fury: A History of Genius

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To inquire after a person’s genius was to ask what kind of man he was, what nature he might possess, or what force might possess him, connecting him to the gods. Genius, from the Latin verb gigno, gignere, meant to generate, father, beget. Its cognates are abundant, multiplying in words like gens (people or clan), genus (birth, descent, race), and our own “gene” and “genital,” from whence all else derives. Genius, a begetter, one who begets. Genius, the father of us all. The origins are obscure.

His official title, “Augustus,” reflected this ambition. Conferred by the Senate in the year 27 BCE, the title had strong religious connotations.

Only those led successfully by reason can do so, and in Plato’s view, it is the philosopher (philosophos), the passionate lover of truth, who achieves the greatest heights. ” But his madness is in truth the highest form of wisdom. “Perfect as perfect can be,” he knows the furor divinus, the divine fury, and is privy to extraordinary vision and power. ”23 Here then was a form of divine inspiration that, while unruly and potentially dangerous, like all forms of possession, could nonetheless be cultivated and at least partially controlled by the appropriate forms of training.

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