In the evolutionary system, advancement in the human world was as a
result of the urge to satisfy the immediate needs of man and even more. Every
organism is essentially endowed with its means of livelihood. So, nature has
done so well to provide animals with their own means of attack, nutrition,
defence and every means of survival.
Hitherto, with further development of the organism in higher animal, a
higher means of survival is required. This higher requirement manifests itself
in the form of human reason and the intelligence. The reason, then, in a
gradual process develops in man as an essential tool to discover and to create
new ways of satisfaction, in order to conquer its own world – the human world.
One might not relent to question the value of the human intellect and
what it is all about. However, human intellect bestows its subject with the
power of reason – ratio or intelligence. And this, therefore,
distinguishes the man, homo sapiens, as that thinking or wise
individual from other evolutionary categorization of humans as in homo
[ standing man], homo habilis etc. Also, it plays an important role in
every human make-up.
According to Prof Copleston,
 reason “ has primarily a biological function. If one may so
speak, Nature intends it as an instrument for satisfying the needs of a more
highly complicated and developed organism than that of animals.”1
One would not to a greater extent question the insatiability of the
human needs and desires. And could one as well question the philosophy of
Arthur Schopenhauer that man and his world are virtually the Will, the blind desire, and representation. Every satisfaction
presupposes a desire, and the latter seeks to attend the former in a logical
dialectics. So, then, as man wangles in his eternal and insatiable desires, he
immerses himself in it and becomes the Will as Schopenhauer opined.
Consequently, human intellect could be seen as a liberator, a key to
human freedom, and emancipation. Schopenhauer  espoused it well that
though intellect is by its nature, the servant of the Will, it is capable in
man of developing to such an extent that it can achieve its objectivity. That
is to say, “that though man’s mind is in the first instance, an instrument for
satisfying His bodily needs, it can develop a kind of surplus energy which sets
it free at least temporarily, from the service of desire” 
might have been liberated, at least temporarily from the service of desire, what
would then happen, if I may ask? Schopenhauer answers that, “he becomes a
disinterested spectator: he can adopt a contemplative attitude, as in aesthetic
contemplation and in philosophy” This aesthetic contemplation according to
Schopenhauer is the way of being a genius.
1.1 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF ARTHUR SCHOPENEAUR
Arthur Schopenhauer was born at Danzig on Feb. 22nd, 1788.
His father, a wealthy merchant, hoped that his son would follow in his
footsteps, and he allowed the boy to spend the years 1803-4 in visiting
England, France and other countries on the understanding that at the conclusion
of the tour, he would take up work in a business house. The young Schopenhauer
fulfilled his promise, but he had no relish for a business career and on his
father’s death in 1803, he obtained his mother’s consent in the continuing of
In 1809, he entered the University of Gottingen to study medicine, but
he changed to philosophy in his second year at the university. As he puts it,
“life is a problem and he had decided to spend his time reflecting on it"3 In the philosophy of Schopenhauer, German idealism took a new turn.
While, for example, Hegel identifies the ultimate reality, the absolute, with Reason,
Schopenhauer identifies it with the WILL. For Hegel, the absolute is
Reason, but for Schopenhauer, the Absolute is the Will. In
Schopenhauer’s idealism, the absolute is not an intelligent being developing
consciously towards its goal but rather a blind irrational impulse for life,
the will-to-live. His idealism is more directly derived from Kant than those of
the three idealists before him, for in his own idealism the absolute is
precisely the thing-in-itself (the noumenon) of Kant.4
After the failure of the Revolution of 1818, a revolution for which Schopenhauer
had no sympathy at all, people were ready to pay attention to a philosophy that
emphasized the evil in the world and the vanity of life and preached a turning
away from life to aesthetic contemplation and asceticism. And in the last
decade of his life, Schopenhauer became a famous man. Visitors came to see him
from all sides. And although the German professors had not forgotten his
sarcasm and abuse, lectures were delivered on his system in several
universities, a sure sign that he has at last arrived. He died in September
1860. May his soul rest in peace. So be it.
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Among so many problems unravelled in the mystery of the mind, stands
most prominently, the question and the concept of genius. And to make matters
worse is the modern usage of the word “genius”. Genius is conceived hitherto as
a “gift of heaven” or a remarkable character imposed on some individuals.
Often, geniuses are seen as extra-ordinary being or super-humans. This ideology
would to some extent arouse the mind of a philosopher and a critical thinker to
inquire why such gift
(if it is) to one, and dullness of intellect, or even idiocy to the
The problem is really philosophical as it questions the one and
universal essence of humanity, of which every human being is made of.
Baffled with the above problem, I, therefore as a matter of fact, invite
the philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer into the intellectual stage to know what
he has to say. We must acknowledge the fact that Schopenhauer’s view of life is
grim and pessimistic. For him, life is an endless strife for the unattainable.
The world is a world of endless strife, conflict, suffering and evil. It is
impossible to stop any of these because they are manifestation of the Will.
This notion makes Schopenhauer the most celebrated philosopher of pessimism.
He, however, recommends only two ways by which the pain and suffering of life
can be minimized. And these are: “Aesthetic contemplation and asceticism,
especially as it is practiced in Buddhism”5 Schopenhauer went further to assert
that the ideas that are the immediate and adequate objectivity of the
thing-in-itself, of the Will, are Arts - the work of genius.
Consequently, only through pure contemplation through which these eternal ideas
are comprehended that constitutes the nature of genius. An immediate question
then would be: Is a genius consists only in pure contemplation and apprehension
of the immutable truths as we see in Schopenhauer? And if so, is everybody
given that ability of contemplation and apprehension? However, this is just the
statement of the problem.
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
Among so many puzzles and mysteries in the universe, hitherto,
unravelled in the Mystery of Mind stands prominently the question of genius.
More often than not, you hear some people say: “Beethoven was a genius”. Albert
Einstein was a genius”. “Geothe was a genius”. An obvious observation is the
fact that the honour of genius, if so, is only appreciated and accorded to
great minds - the Mahatmas, of past
generations. Well acclaimed are those people, that, it seems there is no
existing genius in every present generation. Would it not be a superficial
judgment or observation to measure genius until only after his or her departure
Again, the concept of genius and the cognition of the same appear vague
and enigmatic when considered from the threads of history. This is so, insofar
as people still question the concept. And even, until now, Werner Reyneke in
his article, has once more raised some questions on that phenomenon: “What is
genius? Where does it come from? Where
is it going to? Is genius just the imagination of the genius himself and the
unimaginable bewilderment in the empty hearts of his expectators?” 6
Our study of the psychology of genius, we tend also to raise such
similar questions as:
What is genius, and who is a genius? Is genius a natural or a
supernatural gift to individuals and not all? Of which benefits is genius to
its subject and society in a whole? Again, is one born a genius? Or, is it
developed or achieved in the course of life and existence? Is everybody a
genius, or is it reserved to few individuals? Besides, what makes a genius, a
genius? Does it consist of so many knowledge and highly intelligent quotients?
In fact, how do we recognize a genius? Do we know a genius by his or her
character and behaviour? If so, of which character does a genius exhibit? And
finally, is one a genius just by conventional recognition and a standard
measurement? These critical questions
and more are what we intend to investigate and explore in our research.
Furthermore, this project is an attempt at formulating and exposing the
nature and concept of genius and creativity.
It geared also to enlighten the bright ones as it is supposed to help
those who consider themselves less intellectually fortunate. In short, it will
reiterate the fact that training and persistence can do miracles in one’s life
as in genius.
Again it goes without saying that people seems to have so much regard or
repute for the great minds - the
geniuses. They tend to go extra-miles to emulate them. But all things being
equal or unequal, they lack the means or knowledge for such attainment. The
quest for such endowment of the ambitious- seekers who would like to rise above
the sky, shining like a bright morning star and soaring like the eagle is
another ultimate purpose of this study.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The gift of genius whether by nature or nurture remains the flower of
civilization and development of humanity. Any country, race, nation that
involves itself in the massacre of genius would be very remote. Thus, the wail
of humanity is checked by the activities of genius in their creative
All things been equal or unequal, our study of the psychology of genius
is not to be solely in an abstract or abstruse manner. The Schopeneaurian
idealistic concept of genius in terms of aesthetic contemplation must be
re-visited to have a practical and useful relevance. It goes without saying
that our study will not only add to our knowledge, it will go further to enable
students and all lovers of knowledge to adopt the way and the secret of the
great minds or the geniuses.
Once more, the study would go a long way towards self-knowledge,
auto-realization and auto-actualization. Of course, we cannot neglect the fact
that the project would also pave way for understanding, as a necessary virtue
in inter-human relationship.
1.6 SCOPE OF STUDY
This work will not as a matter of
truth dwells solely on Schopenhaurian idealistic concept of genius. Neither
will this work pretend to present the whole psychological investigation on
genius, nor promise to exhaust its concept, for this would bring to a halt our
further knowledge. Therefore, this work will not as a matter of fact close any
intellectual window to the further knowledge of genius. However, the work would
be articulated in five chapters as in the table of contents. Finally, there
would be a critical reappraisal of Schopenhauerian’s concept of a genius.
1.7 METHODOLOGY OF THE WORK
For the purpose of this work, the method to be
employed would be expository, critical and mildly evaluative. This method is
aimed to approach the topic in a philosophical manner for proper comprehension
1 S. J., Copleston, “A History of Philosophy”, Image books, pg. 34