What Is Genius?

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How to define genius? Dean Keith Simonton takes us on a historical tour of its ever-changing meaning. From its humble beginnings as a measure of potential we all have within us, to a solely artistic gift—as described by Immanuel Kant—to a testable measure of intelligence governed by an IQ score. But can something that transcends the status quo really be defined within the limits of it? What follows is a lively discussion on the making of a genius.
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This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

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Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
Moderator: Marcus du Sautoy
Participants: R. Douglas Fields, Philip Glass, Rex Jung, Dean Keith Simonton, Julie Taymor

Immanuel Kant, who coined the term genius in the 1700s, defined it as the rare capacity to independently understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person. Since then, the spectrum of abilities that we call genius has widened, but pivotal questions remain: What exactly is genius? Where do the remarkable abilities of genius come from? Is genius something that lives within all of us, or is it a categorically different way of seeing the world that is bestowed upon only a few? With...[Read more]