The other night I had to give a presentation and I was thinking about the characteristics of real genius. It’s a much overrated and overused term. Often it is applied to outstanding and amazing human beings but ones who are pretty flawed in some respects, remarkable in others. Some of the cleverest people are actually crazy! In other words, not so clever.
One of the greatest minds of all time, Sir Isaac Newton, was cranky and irascible, paranoid, and obsessed with the idea that Liebnitz had stolen his calculus (Newton invented it first but waited 20 years and Liebnitz published first).
In heat of the moment, a kind of flash, I came up with a better term than genius for my talk: “extended intelligence”. Since I made it up, I get to define it. Ha! Here goes…
A person of outstanding mind and thinking capabilities would show the following traits:
1. Rational, linear and logical.
I keep saying, it isn’t woo or pretty pink thoughts that got us down from the trees, able to watch TV, drive cars and use our computers and cell phones. It was HARD, unforgiving logic.
2. Creative, easily makes mental leaps, parallel thinking, holism and tolerating ambiguity.
That’s your r-brain stuff; the feminine side. Nothing wrong with it. Magical thinking is fine by me but does NOT supplant logic and common sense. It seems to me that imagination and creativity are two outstanding characteristics of clever people. They boldly go where other human minds have never been before! [see #12 for another Star Trek catch phrase!]
3. Thinking backwards in time, even beyond the present life.
Our lives are in a context and this person would be aware of that context, both in terms of racial survival and an individual timeline. History is its own kind of philosophy, pregnant with meaning and information.
This has to be balanced against the negative effect of history: “That’s the way we have always done it”, as the barrier to progress.
I would include past lives here. Anyone who doesn’t know that consciousness cannot be extinguished is no kind of genius to me.
4. Thinking forwards in time, into the future, way beyond the present life.
I have said elsewhere in my writings, that a bold, bright future is almost the definition of sanity. What you see ahead of you partly defines what you are. If you cannot create, as a thinking process, a worthwhile future, you may as well be dead, because you are already halfway there. Extended intelligence is especially extended in terms of a creative future. The genius will see things nobody else is seeing, as a matter of course. More