a genius (over French génie of latin genius eigtl. „personal protection God “, later „plant, gift “) is a person with outstandingly creative spirit strength („an ingenious scientist “, „an ingenious artist “) or also particularly outstanding achievements in other areas („an ingenious sportsman “). Characteristic of a genius are in each case achievements, which cannot hope to reach many humans also with effort.

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this term has two different roots: In English linguistic area comes it from latin genius, which described protection spirit or spirit shapes, which symbolized humans or a group of people. Into Germany and France again he can be attributed to „ingenium “(natural, innate talent). In the Renaissance one began, with the word „genius “to describe artistic work strength or the source of the inspiration. After the French Querelle of the Anciens et modern spread the term then suddenly and dominated myself the aesthetic debates: „The genius “stood now for out the artist creative from itself, for that naturedoes not only copy (like it the earlier aesthetic model planned), but with perfection, what yet could not complete nature.

To this model at the basis lying nature understanding can be attributed essentially to Aristoteles. Crucially it was supplemented still by Gottfried William Leibniz and itsTheory of „the possible worlds “. The genius creates possible worlds, it becomes the creator and thus quasi the God („poeta old deus “- the poet as the second God).

In England the theoretical bases of the genius cult were put particularly by Shaftesbury. Thus became again Immanuel Kant inspires, who combined the continental-European and English genius term to a synthesis. In its work „criticism of the judgement “it calls the genius the instance, by which the nature of the art prescribes the rule - in this way Kant solves thatold controversy of the Querelle of the Anciens modern over art and nature et.

The genius term of Kant had large influence on the artists that Weimar classical period and romance. Jean Paul asked the question into the foreground, like the concrete conditions for the creation of an ingeniousWork of art look. With Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is between his early genius term, which in the poem coined/shaped by the storm and urge „Prometheus “to the expression comes, and his late to differentiate humanistisch clarified genius term with respect to „fist the II “. William of Humboldt extended the genius term to a general education ideal- in the consequence not only artists, but also scientists were called „genius “.Friedrich William Schelling regarded the genius as a piece of the absoluteness of God. For the romantics Friedrich Schlegel and new fact-read was the genius „the natural condition of humans “- it appliesonly to retain or recover this condition.

In 19. Century faded away the genius cult gradually and the term disappeared from the aesthetics, in instead artistic handicraft, social factors etc. into the foreground moved. In scientific discourses the term plays „genius “today no more role.In the everyday linguistic usage it is however far common.

the genius term today

occasional all humans with an intelligence quotient over a certain limit (for example 130 or 145) are called genius. A such definition is however doubtful and goes at the nature of the geniuspast, since by a genius someone is usually understood, which actually furnished outstanding mental achievements, while the intelligence quotient indicates only the capacity for the contribution of this achievement. Also intelligence is alone probably not decisive; Creativity, Fantasie and intuition are further factors.

Long calibration tree was it, which pointed out that it requires a Verehrergemeinde, which explains a high speed as the achievement of a genius. Verehrer are more easily, if it concerns none „normal “achievement, but mental around something unusual, „to Unnormales “or diseased. There between the achievement andoften a very long period is appropriate for their acknowledgment, arise as a result of it inevitably for each ingenious achievement and each genius of problems, which often lead to substantial social and health loads. „Genius misjudged “becomes therefore often only after his death the genius for a Verehrergemeinde.

AsGenius is designated for example Nikola Tesla , Aristoteles , Nikolaus Kopernikus , Leonardo da Vinci , Pablo Picasso , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , Thomas Alva Edison , Albert Einstein , Leonhard Euler , Carl Friedrich Gauss or Charles Darwin.In many cases, like with Karl Marx, Lenin or Sigmund Freud, exists however no general agreement whether this person is to be regarded as a genius, since the estimate of these persons is usually affected by the personal political world view of the viewer.

In the artthe genius term is today regarded increasingly critically, and stressed the integration of an artist or an author into the historical and social-intellectual context.

history of art

of protection spirit, which in medieval sculptures and illustrations is illustrated as winged shapes, are called geniuses. In the baroque are theyin form of small probably-fed babies a decoration very much liked.


as famous German-speaking genius apply among other things Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Gottfried William Leibniz, Johann Sebastian brook, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven (see also universal genius)


  • little admiration finds quotations an ingenious work with the appearance, because that, which it is written, extraordinary humans and few people resemble it. But its work becomes the rare spirit,those are able to understand it fertilize, and their number becomes mehren. - Marcel Proust (on the search for the lost time. In the shade of the young girls, ISBN 3518578758, S. 106)
  • Genius is the innate mind situation, by which nature thatArt their rules gives. - Kant
  • the genius is a product of its age. Egon Friedell (culture history of the modern times)
  • the age is a product of the genius. Egon Friedell (culture history of the modern times)
  • genius and its age are inkommensurabel. Egon Friedell (culture history of the modern times)
  • that Kraft of humans,which by acting and doing law and rules gives (Goethe to the genius term)


  • William long calibration tree and tungsten Kurth: Genius, insanity and fame. Munich. Ernst Reinhardt publishing house 1979.
  • Gerhard Prause: Genius at school: Legend and truths about success inLife. Munich: Paperback publishing house 1998, ISBN 3-612-26486-9
  • Géza Révész: Talent and genius: Fundamentals of a gift psychology. Berne: Francke 1952 (=Sammlung Dalp 76).
  • Schmidt, yokes: The history of the genius thought in the German literature, philosophy and policy 1750-1945. 2 volumes. Darmstadt: Scientific book company 1985.
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See also

Wikiquote: Genius - quotations

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