What is Genius?


Quotes on Genius, Originality, Intelligence, Motivation, Ability and Creativity





A genius is one who can do anything except make a living. 
Joey Lauren Adams

Genius is sorrow's child. 
John Adams 

If you wish to succeed in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.
Joseph Addison

Joey Lauren Adams

It takes people a long time to learn the difference between talent and genius, especially ambitious young men and women.
Louisa May Alcott

To do easily what is difficult for others is the mark of talent. To do what is impossible for talent is the mark of genius. 
Henri-Frédéric Amiel 

We know that the nature of genius is to provide idiots with ideas twenty years later.
Louis Aragon 

Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius. 
— Pietro Aretino

Genius is mainly an affair of energy.
— Matthew Arnold

There is in every madman a misunderstood genius whose idea, shining in his head, frightened people, and for whom delirium was the only solution to the strangulation that life had prepared for him.
— Antonin Artaud

Geniuses are the luckiest of mortals because what they must do is the same as what they most want to do. 
— W. H. Auden 

Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes,
Is oft but perseverance in disguise.
— Henry Austin


J. M. Barrie

Since when was genius found respectable? 
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

What is genius? It is the power to be a boy again at will.
— J. M. Barrie

As diamond cuts diamond, and one hone smooths a second, all of the parts of intellect are whetstones to each other; and genius, which is but the result of their mutual sharpening, is character too.
— C. A. Bartol

Genius is no more than childhood recaptured at will, childhood equipped now with man's physical means to express itself, and with the analytical mind that enables it to bring order into the sum of experience, involuntarily amassed.
— Charles Baudelaire

Genius is childhood recaptured.
— Jean Baudrillard

One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius.
— Simone de Beauvoir

Common sense is instinct, and enough of it is genius.
— Josh Billings

Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.
— William Blake 

Genius makes its observations in short-hand; talent writes them out at length.
— Christian Nevell Bovee

A genius is someone who has TWO great ideas. 
— Jacob Bronowski 

Genius has somewhat of the infantine:
But of the childish, not a touch or tainy.
— Robert Browning

Between genius and talent there is the proportion of the whole to its part. 
— Jean de la Bruyere

Genius is only a greater aptitude for patience. 
— George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon

Every man who observes vigilantly and resolves steadfastly, grows unconsciously into genius.
— Bulwer-Lytton

Genius does what it must, and talent does what it can.
— Edward Robert Bulwer


Calvin & Hobbes

People think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don't realize how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world. 
— Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes)

Some of Shakespeare's fellow playwrights, like Christopher Marlowe, did have university degrees, but the fact is that many of the greatest authors in history never set foot in college. Geniuses are geniuses precisely because they do not play by the ordinary rules.
— Paul Cantor

But sometimes still harder requisitions are laid upon the poor aspirant to poetry; for it is hinted he should have been born two centuries ago, inasmuch as poetry about that date vanished from the earth and became no more attainable by men! Such cobweb speculations have, now and then, overhung the filed of literature; but they obstruct not the growth of any plant there. The Shakespeare or the Burns, unconsciously and merely as he walks onward, silently brushes them away. Is not every genius an impossibility till he appears?
— Thomas Carlyle, An Essay on Robert Burns

It were a piece of vain flattery to pretend that this Work on Clothes entirely contents us; that it is not, like all works of genius, like the very Sun, which, though the highest published creation of genius, has nevertheless black spots and troubled nebulosities amidst its effulgence,--a mixture of insight, inspiration, with dullness, double-vision, and even utter blindness.
— Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple. 
— C. W. Ceran

Passion holds up the bottom of the universe and genius paints up its roof.
— Chao Chang

Genius hath electric power which earth can never tame.
— Lydia M. Child

A prophet is not unhonored except in his home territory and among his relatives and in his own house.
Jesus Christ

Genius is of no country.
Charles Churchill

True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information. 
Winston Churchill 

Intelligence recognizes what has happened. Genius recognizes what will happen.
John Ciardi

Genius is fostered by industry.

Talent, lying in the understanding, is often inherited; genius, being the action of reason or imagination, rarely or never.
Samuel T. Coleridge 

Genius, in one respect, is like gold, - numbers of persons are constantly writing about both, who have neither.
C. C. Colton

Genius knows where the questions are hidden. 
Mason Cooley

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, 'Press on,' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Calvin Coolidge

Talent is what you possess; genius is what possesses you.
Malcolm Cowley

When human power becomes so great and original that we can account for it only as a kind of divine imagination, we call it genius.
William Crashaw


Leonardo Da Vinci

Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are most active.
— Leonardo Da Vinci

The education of the gentleman-amateur, which at its best fostered sound judgment and the ability to express oneself, to assimilate great figures of the past and find one's way around in new terrain, sustained [Edmund] Wilson as a professional journalist.
— Lewis Dabney

Genius, like truth, has a shabby and neglected mien.
— Edward Dahlberg

The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents.
— Salvador Dali

Have no fear of perfection - You will never reach it.
— Salvador Dali

He was a genius - that is to say, a man who does superlatively and without obvious effort something that most people cannot do by the uttermost exertion of their abilities.
— Robertson Davies, Fifth Business

Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them. 
— Robertson Davies 

It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.
— Rene Descartes

Genius is present in every age, but the men carrying it within them remain benumbed unless extraordinary events occur to heat up and melt the mass so that it flows forth.
— Denis Diderot

Oh! how near are genius and madness! Men imprison them and chain them, or raise statues to them.
— Denis Diderot

Philosophy becomes poetry and science imagination, in the enthusiasm of genius.
— Disraeli 

Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius.
— Benjamin Disraeli

Fortune has rarely condescended to be the companion of genius.
— Isaac Disraeli

Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.
— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
— Thomas A. Edison

Quotes of Albert Einstein on Genius and Knowledge:

  • Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction.

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.

  • The only real valuable thing is intuition.

  • If you cannot explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough

  • Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

  • Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.

  • The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

  • The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.

  • The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

  • I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details.

  • The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.

  • I am convinced that He does not play dice.

  • The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.

  • Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.

  • Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.

  • Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.

  • The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.

  • Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.

  • Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.

  • I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

  • In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.

  • Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. (Sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton; Note: Frances Galton's famous quote: "Whenever you can, count.")

  • Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

  • A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.

  • I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.

  • Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.

  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

  • Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds.

  • My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

  • The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.

  • Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.

  • The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

  • Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

  • You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.

  • A human being is a part of a whole, called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest...a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

  • Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.

  • God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.

  • The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.

  • Technological progress is like an ax in the hands of a pathological criminal.

  • We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

  • Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.

  • Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.

  • Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.

  • If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.

  • As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

  • Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.

  • ...One of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.

  • Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity.

  • Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius --- and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

  • Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.

  • It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.

  • The important thing is not to stop questioning.

  • The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

  • It's nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled youthful curiosity, for this delicate plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
— Dwight Eisenhower 1953 speech

Quotes of Ralph Waldo Emerson on Genius:

  • Genius always finds itself a century too early. 

  • In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. 

  • Accept your genius and say what you think.

  • The greatest genius is the most indebted person.

  • We owe to genius always the same debt, of lifting the curtain from the common, and showing us that divinities are sitting disguised in the seeming gang of gypsies and peddlars.

  • To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men -- that is genius.

  • When Nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.

  • Great geniuses have the shortest biographies. 

  • There could always be traced, in the most barbarous tribes, and also in the most character-destroying civilization, some vestiges of a faith in genius, as in the exemption of a priesthood or bards or artists from taxes and tolls levied on other men . . .this reverence is the reestablishment of rational order, for as the solidest rocks are made up of invisible gasses, as the world is made of thickened light and arrested electricity, so men know that their ideas are the parents of men and of things; there was never any thing that did not proceed from a thought.

  • If you criticize a fine genius, the odds are that you are out of your reckoning, and, instead of the poet, are censuring your own caricature of him.

  • Talent may frolic and juggle; genius realizes and adds.

  • Common sense is as rare as genius, is the basis of genius, and experience is hands and feet to every enterprise.

  • In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

  • To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men - that is genius.

No one respects a talent that is concealed.
— Desiderius Erasmus 

Genius is entitled to respect only when it promotes the peace and improves the happiness of mankind.
— Lord Essex 


Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind. 
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

Genius goes around the world in its youth incessantly apologizing for having large feet. What wonder that later in life it should be inclined to raise those feet too swiftly to fools and bores. 
— F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable.
— Margot Fonteyn 

Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
— Benjamin Franklin

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade.
— Benjamin Franklin 

It is not because the touch of genius has roused genius to production, but because the admiration of genius has made talent ambitious, that the harvest is still so abundant.
— Margaret Fuller 

Genius will live and thrive without training, but it does not the less reward the watering- pot and pruning-knife.
— Margaret Fuller 

The especial genius of women I believe to be electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spiritual in tendency.
— Margaret Fuller 

Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them.
— R. Buckminster Fuller


Geniuses used to be rare. Today, thanks to popular interpretation of test scores, every elementary or secondary school has its quota.
— John W. Gardner

Quotes of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on Genius:

  • The greatest genius will never be worth much if he pretends to draw exclusively from his own resources.

  • Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

  • . . . it is the characteristic of genius always to be stimulating other men's genius.

  • Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days...What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it.

  • [A painter] assured me that works of genius are arrived at only in solitude. This led me to the work of the moral genius in us, and I suspected the truth that in this matter, too, one must be alone. . . . Society does not think and work with the clarity of the wise individual man... [i]t has divided the whole of human development into parts, has distributed the branches and special tasks of these and has allotted to each station in life its special field of cooperation . . . But in this arises a certain incompleteness and pedantry. . . Human society must progress [and] such a state, occupied with progress toward perfection, can undertake nothing with agents who have never looked out beyond the narrow sphere of their special calling and can only go on in the old rut. (From A Philosophy of Masonry: Letters to [Benjamin] Constant)

  • It is obvious that the efforts of the best poets and aesthetic writers of all nations have now for some time been directed towards what is universal in humanity. In each special field, whether in history, mythology, or fiction, more or less arbitrarily conceived, one sees the traits which are universal always more clearly revealed and illumining what is merely national and personal . . . . we cannot indeed hope that universal peace is being ushered in thereby, but only that inevitable strife will be gradually more restrained, war will become less cruel, and victory less insolent . . . . A genuine, universal tolerance is most surely attained, if we do not quarrel with the peculiar characteristics of individual men and races, but only hold fast the conviction, that what is truly excellent is distinguished by its belonging to all mankind.  (Letter to Thomas Carlyle, 20 July 1837)

  • Insight and practical activity are to be distinguished, and we ought to reflect that every art, when we reduce it to practice, is something very great and difficult, and that mastery of it requires a life . . . thus Goethe strove for insight into many things, but has practically confined himself to one thing only. Only one thing has he practiced, and that is the art of writing German. That the matter which he uttered is of a many-sided nature is another affair. 

Both wit and understanding are trifles without integrity. The ignorant peasant without fault is greater than the philosopher with many. What is genius or courage without a heart?
— Oliver Goldsmith

Genius differs from talent not by the amount of original thoughts, but by making the latter fertile and by positioning them properly, in other words, by integrating everything into a whole, whereas talent produces only fragments, no matter how beautiful.
— Franz Grillparzer

Genius resembles a bell; in order to ring it must be suspended into pure air, and when a foreign body touches it, its joyful tone is silenced.
— Franz Grillparzer

Genius unrefined resembles a flash of lightning, but wisdom is like the sun.
— Franz Grillparzer

What is genius, anyway, if it isn't the ability to give an adequate response to a great challenge.
— Bette Greene


Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have is this. When I have a subject in mind. I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it... the effort which I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought.
— Alexander Hamilton

Nothing is so envied as genius, nothing so hopeless of attainment by labor alone. Though labor always accompanies the greatest genius, without the intellectual gift labor alone will do little.
— B. R. Hayden

Aldous Huxley

If we wish to know the force of human genius we should read Shakespeare. If we wish to see the insignificance of human learning we may study his commentators. 
— William Hazlitt 

Great genius takes shape by contact with another great genius, but, less by assimilation than by friction. 
— Heinrich Heine

Genius is nothing but continued attention.
— Claude Adrien Helvetius 

To do what others cannot do is talent. To do what talent cannot do is genius.
— Will Henry

Nature is the master of talents; genius is the master of nature. 
— Josiah Gilbert Holland

The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes 

Unpretending mediocrity is good, and genius is glorious; but a weak flavor of genius in an essentially common person is detestable. It spoils the grand neutrality of a commonplace character, as the rinsings of an unwashed wine-glass spoil a draught of fair water.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes 

Unless you are a genius, it is best to aim at being intelligible. 
— Anthony Hope

In America a person with some kind of title, however trivial, will have an easier time of it than someone without. 'Person' is not good enough in the world's greatest democracy, not even 'individual.' One must be something. A dentist or accountant or lawyer is good, but even titles denoting lesser status--plumber, mechanic, farmer--make life easier. 'Artist' is an excellent title in some cases, a handle to give otherwise scruffy characters entrée to people and places which would otherwise be off limits.
— Charles House

The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius. 
— Oliver Wendell Holmes 

One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.
— Elbert Hubbard

Constant effort and frequent mistakes are the stepping-stones of genius.
— Elbert Hubbard 

Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.
— Elbert Hubbard 

Genius is only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it; so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it.
— Elbert Hubbard

Genius: the superhuman in man.
— Victor Hugo

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come. 
— Victor Hugo

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which mean never losing your enthusiasm. 
—  Aldous Huxley

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of childhood into maturity
— Thomas Henry Huxley


Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos. Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish to the crowd.
— I Ching


Genius defines itself.
— Quinn Tyler Jackson

Genius... means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way. 
— William James

The essence of genius is to know what to overlook.
— William James

A just society can help people in need without resorting to discrimination on the basis of irrelevant criteria involving group-membership.
— Arthur Jensen, Discussions on Genius and Intelligence

Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.
— Samuel Johnson 

Erica Jong

Genius . . . that energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates.
— Samuel Johnson

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.
— Erica Jong

Some superior minds are unrecognized because there is no standard by which to weigh them.
— Joseph Joubert 

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.
— James Joyce


John Keats

There are many examples of old, incorrect theories that stubbornly persisted, sustained only by the prestige of foolish but well-connected scientists. ... Many of these theories have been killed off only when some decisive experiment exposed their incorrectness. .. Thus the yeoman work in any science, and especially physics, is done by the experimentalist, who must keep the theoreticians honest.
— Michio Kaku

Works of genius are the first things in the world. 
— John Keats 

The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.
— John Maynard Keynes

Genius sits in a glass house—but in an unbreakable one—conceiving ideas. After giving birth, it falls into madness. Stretches out its hand through the window toward the first person happening by. The demon’s claw rips, the iron fist grips. Before, you were a model, mocks the ironic voice between serrated teeth, for me, you are raw material to work on. I throw you against the glass wall, so that you remain stuck there, projected and stuck.... (Then come the lovers of art and contemplate the bleeding work from outside. Then come the photographers. “New art,” it says in the newspaper the following day. The learned journals give it a name that ends in “ism.”)
— Paul Klee

All of us, you, your children, your neighbors and their children are everyday geniuses, even though the fact is unnoticed and unremembered by everyone. That's probably because school hasn't encouraged us to notice what's hidden inside us waiting for the right environment to express itself.
— Peter Kline 

The principal mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.
— Arthur Koestler

Genius is an overused word. The world has known only about a half dozen geniuses . I got only fairly near.
— Fritz Kreisler


Oscar Levant

We are the leaves of one branch, the drops of one sea, the flowers of one garden.
— Jean Baptiste Henry Lacordaire

To see things in the seed, that is genius.
— Lao-Tzu

Our brightest minds are our greatest and most cost-effective resource, and the chance of helping even one "real genius" whose work is of critical benefit to the world justifies helping a thousand of extraordinary promise.
— Christopher Michael Langan, Mega Foundation

I've often observed that God can use anyone in the furtherance of teleology, exploiting the good through their strengths and the bad through their weaknesses. His true servants, on the other hand, need not be exploited at all, but voluntarily adopt His will as their own. Doing that properly, as opposed to deluding oneself in a spirit of blind egoism, naturally requires and confers a measure of genius.
— Christopher Michael Langan

No doubt about it, Isaac Newton was a genius, and you'll never hear me argue otherwise. Still, his powers of conceptualization were limited by the height of those shoulders on which he stood.
— Christopher Michael Langan

Who in the same given time can produce more than others has vigor; who can produce more and better, has talents; who can produce what none else can, has genius.
— Johann Kaspar Lavater 

If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius. 
— Larry Leissner

There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.
— Oscar Levant

The real people of genius were resolute workers not idle dreamers.
— George Henry Lewes 

No doubt those who really founded modern science were usually those whose love of truth exceeded their love of power; in every mixed movement the efficacy comes from the good elements not from the bad. But the presence of bad elements in not irrelevant to the direction the efficacy takes. It might be going too far to say that the modern scientific movement was tainted from its birth; but I think it would be true to say that it was born in an unhealthy neighbourhood and at an inauspicious hour. Its triumphs may have been too rapid and purchased at too high a price: reconsideration, and something like repentance, may be required.
— C. S. Lewis

Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.
— Georg Christoph Lichtenberg 

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. 
— Abraham Lincoln 

Men of genius are often dull and inert in society; as the blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is only a stone.
— Longfellow 

Talent is that which is in a man's power; genius is that in whose power man is. 
— James Russell Lowell

Freedom is the only law which genius knows.
— James Russell Lowell

'There are a few men who are not dupes of ignorance,' said Hermes to Charon, but 'you see how they stand aloof from the crowd and laugh at what goes on; they are not in the least satisfied with it all, but are cleverly planning to make their escape from life to your own regions. Indeed they have reason, for they are disliked because they expose the follies of men.'
— Lucian, Charon, Or The Inspectors.

Every person of genius is considerably helped by being dead.
— Robert S. Lund


Genius is talent provided with ideals. Genius starves while talent wears purple and fine linen. The man of genius of today will in fifty years’ time be in most cases no more than a man of talent.
— Somerset Maugham

Change the worldview; change the world.

— Mega Foundation motto

Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.
— Bernard Meltzer

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Genius does what it must, and Talent does what it can. 
— Owen Meredith 

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
— Michelangelo

Genius is eternal patience.
— Michelangelo

It is strange that all great men should have some oddness, some little grain of folly   mingled with whatever genius they possess.
— Moliere

Take back the beauty and wit you bestow upon me; leave me my own mediocrity of agreeableness and genius, but leave me also my sincerity, my constancy, and my plain dealing; 'tis all I have to recommend me to the esteem either of others or myself.
— Mary Wortley Montagu

No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does. 
— Christopher Morley

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
— Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child. 
— Vladimir Nabokov

Genius is an African who dreams up snow. 
— Vladamir Nabokov 

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
— Isaac Newton

On how he made discoveries:
By always thinking unto them. I keep the subject constantly before me and wait till the first dawnings open little by little into the full light.
— Isaac Newton

What is genius?—To will both a lofty goal and the means to achieving it.
— Friedrich Nietzsche

Vladimir Nabokov


José Ortega y Gasset

The life of Ortega is complicated by no less than five parallel careers. He is at once a teacher, an essayist, a publisher-editor, a philosopher, and a statesman. . . . perhaps his very breadth of experience led him to an overall understanding that a narrower view of life would never have inspired. . . . Today few thinkers can venture into the wider reaches of school and society without becoming dangerously unskilled amateurs.
— Introduction to José Ortega y Gasset, Mission of the University

Better beware of notions like genius and inspiration; they are a sort of magic wand and should be used sparingly by anybody who wants to see things clearly. 
— José Ortega y Gasset


Ezra Pound

Genius is the father of a heavenly line; but the mortal mother, that is industry.
— Theodore Parler

No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent; work transforms talent into genius.
— Anna Pavlova

Every positive value has its price in negative terms...The genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima. 
— Pablo Picasso 

The most important key is desire and energy. I know many friends in school that were more intelligent than me but they turned out to be less creative and productive in life, at least by some measures of creativity and productivity. Their decreased creativity or productivity, at least from my perspective, has to do with their drive and energy to be creative and productive. It's not that they did not have the intelligence to write twenty-five books—these people were far more intelligent than me—but rather they didn't feel like doing it. They lacked the desired and activation energy.
— Clifford Pickover,

[Nietzsche] must have known that the book [Birth of Tragedy] would ruin his career in scholarship and make his life in Basel very difficult . . .[H]is anxiety over alienating himself from his profession was largely balanced by the pleasure he now anticipated from Wagner's approval . [I]t required Wagner, who was a recognized genius, to name Nietzsche one. . . . the objective knowledge that the genius has of the [Platonic] Ideas is not directly relevant to day-to-day life. His direct apprehension of the nature of things gives his knowledge a timeless quality incompatible with the strivings of his contemporaries, who are so full of momentary purpose. His very insight estranges him from his fellows.
— Carl Pletsch, Young Nietzsche- Becoming a Genius.

[Nietzsche's point was that] Only through emulating a genius could an aspiring individual be redeemed from his own limitations and the opposition of the world. In this sense, as an object of emulation, Schopenhauer had served Nietzsche as redeemer . . . . The genius, redeemed from himself and his contemporaries by the example of the genius preceding him, justifies his generation. The genius creates the mental world in which the next generation will live, including that generation's genius. And that progression of genius is what constitutes history. History is a genealogy of geniuses.
— Carl Pletsch, Young Nietzsche-Becoming a Genius

No man's genius, however shining, can raise him from obscurity, unless he has industry, opportunity, and also a patron to recommend him. (Nequ enim cuiquam tam ckarum statim ingenium, ut possit emergere, nisi illi materia, occasio, fautor etiam commendatorque contingat.)
— Pliny the Younger, Epistles.

Men have called me mad but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence--whether much that is glorious; whether all that is profound--does not spring from disease of thought, from moods of mind exalted at the expense of general intellect.
— Edgar Allen Poe

One science only will one genius fit: 
So vast is art, so narrow human wit. 
— Alexander Pope 

A man of genius has a right to any mode of expression.
— Ezra Pound 

Genius ... is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one, and where the man of talent sees two or three, plus the ability to register that multiple perception in the material of his art.
— Ezra Pound

We should like to have some towering geniuses, to reveal us to ourselves in colour and fire, but of course they would have to fit into the pattern of our society and be able to take orders from sound administrative types. 
— J. B. Priestley 

The mark of genius is an incessant activity of mind. Genius is a spiritual greed.
— V. S. Pritchett


 One man’s observation is another man’s closed book or flight of fancy.
— Willard Van Orman Quine


One of the satisfactions of a genius is his will-power and obstinacy.
— Man Ray

Artistic genius is an expansion of monkey imitativeness.
— W. Winwood Reade

If you have a genius, industry will improve it; if you have none, industry will supply its place.
— Sir Joshua Reynolds

I don't have a lot of respect for talent. Talent is genetic. It's what you do with it that counts.
— Martin Ritt

Man Ray


But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
— Carl Sagan 

Genius is, to be sure, not a matter of arbitrariness, but rather of freedom, just as wit, love, and faith, which once shall become arts and disciplines. We should demand genius from everybody, without, however, expecting it.
— Friedrich Schlegel 

Arthur Schopenhauer

Reason is mechanical, wit chemical, and genius organic spirit.
— Friedrich Schlegel 

Talent is like a marksman who hits a target that others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target . . . others cannot even see.
— Arthur Schopenhauer.

Nature shows that with the growth of intelligence comes increased capacity for pain, and it is only with the highest degree of intelligence that suffering reaches its supreme point.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

A man of intellect is like an artist who gives a concert without any help from anyone else, playing on a single instrument—a piano, say, which is a little orchestra in itself. Such a man is a little world in himself; and the effect produced by various instruments together, he produces single-handed, in the unity of his own consciousness. Like the piano, he has no place in a symphony; he is a soloist and performs by himself—in solitude, it may be; or if in the company with other instruments, only as principal; or for setting the tone, as in singing.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

The poet presents the imagination with images from life and human characters and situations, sets them all in motion and leaves it to the beholder to let these images take his thoughts as far as his mental powers will permit. This is why he is able to engage men of the most differing capabilities, indeed fools and sages together. The philosopher, on the other hand, presents not life itself but the finished thoughts which he has abstracted from it and then demands that the reader should think precisely as, and precisely as far as, he himself thinks. That is why his public is so small.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

Talent works for money and fame; the motive which moves genius to productivity is, on the other hand, less easy to determine. It isn’t money, for genius seldom gets any. It isn’t fame: fame is too uncertain and, more closely considered, of too little worth. Nor is it strictly for its own pleasure, for the great exertion involved almost outweighs the pleasure. It is rather an instinct of a unique sort by virtue of which the individual possessed of genius is impelled to express what he has seen and felt in enduring works without being conscious of any further motivation. It takes place, by and large, with the same sort of necessity as a tree brings forth fruit, and demands of the world no more than a soil on which the individual can flourish.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

The fundament upon which all our knowledge and learning rests is the inexplicable.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

Great minds are related to the brief span of time during which they live as great buildings are to a little square in which they stand: you cannot see them in all their magnitude because you are standing too close to them.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

Talent works, genius creates.
— Robert Schumann

There is no great genius free from some tincture of madness. 
— Seneca

A man of genius is not a man who sees more than other men do. On the contrary, it is very often found that he is absentminded and observes much less than other people.... Why is it that the public have such an exaggerated respect for him—after he is dead? The reason is that the man of genius understands the importance of the few things he sees.
— George Bernard Shaw

The failure of women to produce genius of the first rank in most of the supreme forms of human effort has been used to block the way of all women of talent and ambition for intellectual achievement in a manner that would be amusingly absurd were it not so monstrously unjust and socially harmful. 
— Anna Garlin Spencer

The poets' scrolls will outlive the monuments of stone. Genius survives; all else is claimed by death. 
— Edmund Spenser 

Genius is essentially creative; it bears the stamp of the individual who possesses it.
— Anne Louise Germaine de Stael 

Genius can never despise labour.
— Anne Louise Germaine de Stael 

It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.
— Gertrude Stein 

I may say that only three times in my life have I met a genius and each time a bell within me rang and I was not mistaken, and I may say in each case it was before there was any general recognition of the quality of genius in them. The three genius of whom I wish to speak are Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Alfred Whitehead. . . .I like a view but I like to sit with my back turned to it . . . . I remember once coming into the room and hearing Bernard Faÿ say that the three people of first rate importance that he had met in his life were Picasso, Gertrude Stein and Andre Gidé and Gertrude Stein inquired quite simply, that is quite right but why include Gidé.
— Gertrude Stein, Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

I know that the twelve notes in each octave and the varieties of rhythm offer me the opportunities that all of human genius will never exhaust.
— Igor Stravinsky

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. 
— Jonathan Swift 


Science is but a perversion of itself unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity.
— Nicola Tesla

Peace can only come as a natural consequence of universal enlightenment...
— Nicola Tesla

True genius sees with the eyes of a child and thinks with the brain of a genius.
— Puzant Kevork Thomajan 

The Man of Genius may at the same time be, indeed is commonly, an Artist, but the two are not to be confounded. The Man of Genius, referred to mankind, is an originator, an inspired or demonic man, who produces a perfect work in obedience to laws yet unexplored. The artist is he who detects and applies the law from observation of the works of Genius, whether of man or nature. The Artisan is he who merely applies the rules which others have detected. There has been no man of pure Genius, as there has been none wholly destitute of Genius.
— Henry David Thoreau

The function of genius is not to give new answers, but to pose new questions which time and mediocrity can resolve.
— H. R. Trevor-Roper 

On Genius and Opportunity:
Mark Twain told a story about a man who had spent his entire life searching for the world's greatest general.  He never found him.  When he got to Heaven, he asked Saint Peter if would show him the world's greatest general.  Saint Peter said, "Follow me."  He took the man through heaven and pointed out a man and said,  "That is the world's greatest general."  The man said, "You must be mistaken.  That was the blacksmith in my village."  Peter said, "You are right.  He was the blacksmith in your village, but if he had been a general, he would have been the greatest general of all."  



Brenda Ueland

I read ... an article by a highly educated man wherein he told with what conscientious pains he had brought up all his children to be skeptical of everything, never to believe anything in life or religion or their own feelings without submitting it to many rational doubts, to have a persistent, thoroughly skeptical, doubting attitude toward everything.... I think he might as well have taken them out in the backyard and killed them with an ax.
Brenda Ueland, Educator 

Consistency is the horror of the world.
— Brenda Ueland

... the great artists ... do not want security, egoistic or materialistic.
— Brenda Ueland

Science is a cemetery of dead ideas.
— Miguel de Unamuno

To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.
— Miguel de Unamuno

When we try in good faith to believe in materialism, in the exclusive reality of the physical, we are asking our selves to step aside; we are disavowing the very realm where we exist and where all things precious are kept—the realm of emotion and conscience, of memory and intention and sensation.
— John Updike

Unfortunately, the balance of nature decrees that a super-abundance of dreams is paid for by a growing potential for nightmares.
— Peter Ustinov


The lamp of genius burns quicker than the lamp of life. 
— Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

Everybody is born with genius, but most people only keep it a few minutes. 
— Edgard Varèse

Talent without genius isn't much, but genius without talent is nothing whatever. 
— Paul Valéry

Common sense is not so common.
— Voltaire

Genius is, to be sure, not a matter of arbitariness, but rather of freedom, just as wit, love, and faith, which once shall become arts and disciplines. We should demand genius from everybody, without, however, expecting it.
— Friedrich Von Schlegel

Reason is mechanical, wit chemical, and genius organic spirit.
— Friedrich Von Schlegel


Oscar Wilde

The divine egoism that is genius.
— Mary Webb 

Real genius is nothing else but the supernatural virtue of humility in the domain of thought.
— Simone Weil 

The world is a welter and always has been one; but through all the cranks and the theorists cannot master the old floundering monster, or force it for long into any of their neat plans of readjustment, here and there a saint or a genius suddenly sends a little ray through the fog, and helps humanity to stumble on, and perhaps up. 
— Edith Wharton

[In New York] as in most provincial societies, the scholars, artists and men of letters shut themselves obstinately away from people they despised as 'fashionable,' and the latter did not know how to make the necessary advances to those who lived outside their little conventions. It is only in sophisticated societies that the intellectual recognize the uses of the frivolous, and that the frivolous know how to make their house attractive to their betters. . . My readers, by this time, may be wondering what were the particular merits, private or civic, of these amiable persons. Their lives, as one looks back, certainly seem lacking in relief; but I believe their value lay in upholding two standards of importance in any community, that of education and good manners, and of scrupulous probity in business and private affairs.
— Edith Wharton

The Paris salon: 'the ease and amenity to be found only where intelligent people of various callings, with a few cultivated idlers among them, predominate over the highly-trained specialist. The only completely agreeable society I have ever known is that wherein the elements are selected and blent by a woman of the world, instinctively alert for every shade of suitability, and whose light hand never suffers the mixture to stiffen or grow heavy.
— Edith Wharton

Genius lasts longer than Beauty. That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves.
— Oscar Wilde 

I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works. 
— Oscar Wilde 

The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.
— Oscar Wilde 

Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice. 
— Virginia Woolf 


The media is the most powerful entity on earth... they control the minds of the masses.
Malcom X

Only by great risks can great results be achieved.


We cannot expect in the immediate future that all women who seek it will achieve full equality of opportunity. But if women are to start moving towards that goal, we must believe in ourselves or no one else will believe in us; we must match our aspirations with the competence, courage and determination to succeed.
— Rosalyn Yalow

Rosalyn Yalow


When touched by genius, when led by chance, the most superior truth can come into being from even the most foolish error.
— Stefan Zweig

It is a law of life that human beings, even the geniuses among them, do not pride themselves on their actual achievements but that they want to impress others, want to be admired and respected because of things of much lower import and value.
— Stefan Zweig


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