18 January 2012

What is Genius?

This is not based on an assignment but a brain development and parenting discussion group.

The answer to where genius comes from starts with Bandura's solution for the age old nature-nurture debate. There are 3 mutually influencing factors. Environment, person, and behavior continuously shape who we are, what we think, how we respond to our environment, and how our environment responds to us. He called it reciprocal determinism. But this 3 way feedback has multiple levels of processing. On the neurochemical level, nutrition creates the environment in which conscious thought (individual person) translates into the neural impulses of physical reaction. Then the history of reactions creates preferred neural pathways and consistent responses.

Because I am often surprised by the brilliant things my brain comes up with, I am very interested in the concept of genius. My brother in 4th grade had a 138 IQ and was in the Gifted program at school. I did not qualify. The savant genius has a singular skillset--a narrow range of neural responses. This is not my favorite definition of genius because it excludes me. I am not exceptional in any one thing.

I have a theory of how the brain works in four neural networks: spiritual, intellectual, physical, and emotional social. Each operates based on need-based drives. Personality is an expression of needs focus. Bonita's creative friend has spiritual genius because he has found the greatest satisfaction in meeting and fulfilling the spiritual needs of himself and others (believing, inspiring, creating). The entirety of my theory is about satisfying my personal need to compile and understand the world around me, reflecting an intellectual genius.

But then, it was not enough for me to keep coming up with philosophies and theories, I had to have something physically tangible to prove my intelligence (to myself). That need was manifested in my invention, Skembox (look it up on Facebook) which is a multi-use toy that serves as a playhouse, boat, bus, spaceship, or kitchen playcenter, desk, or bookcase ad infinitum. Also on the physical side, I am a ballet dancer and choreographer specializing in group formations.

A business genius has to combine at least two types of genius, but the most motivational leaders have spiritual genius--vision and faith (in God makes it better but faith in what you are doing is mandatory). The other essential element in a visionary leader is emotional-social genius. The ability to satisfy personal needs for attachment and human interaction on a slightly higher level.

Every single form of genius can be developed and improved by any individual--except where there is physical damage or limitation within the neural network, but even that can be overcome with enough will and belief, but that takes spiritual genius to begin with.

Therefore, my idea of the ultimate genius is one who employs the most neural networks in satisfying all four types of need. Wholebrain goodness. :-)

And like all people (broad generalization) who seek to define genius, I make it as slanted toward my own personal traits as possible. It is not that I want to be a genius, as much as I want to know why I don't seem to think like other people in my immediate association. Am I that special? Can other people learn to be as great as I am? What sort of obligation does being "gifted" bring? Etc.

Melvin said Genius comes from deep within self--being aware of that takes interpersonal intelligence. Let's say genius is special aptitude in perceiving, defining, or transforming internal or external environments. So we have six categories. Internal refers to intrapersonal or self-knowledge. So the categories are 1. internal perceptive (deeply evaluates self), 2. external perceptive (keenly interested in observing any particular aspect of the environment; notices details; these are the philosophers), 3. internal defining (is able to explain and translate personal behavior and recognize patterns in others, 4. External defining (these are the theorists). 5. internal transforming (driven to improve personally, perfectionist; loves calendaring, organizing, and getting things done, inspires change in others) 6. external transforming (these are the inventors who translate knowledge into tangible objects, projects, or systems.

I would place those categories in degrees so that external transformative is the sixth and highest form of genius because it employs more networks of the brain--besides that, life is an experiment to see if what you think and believe can be physically verified. That is why (or because) the brain is set up in the reciprocal feedback system I talked about earlier. Environment-->Person-->Behavior = Belief -->Action-->Habit.

Geniuses are people who can honestly evaluate the results of their beliefs and habits and change their ideas, actions, and environments to correct errors and improve self and others. Genius can be learned by people of integrity. Integrity can be learned early in life much easier than late in life.

Virtuosity in any artistic discipline is a fifth degree genius because it requires consistent, honest evaluation of skills. Note the root words virtue and disciple. But the virtuoso can recognize this singular focus as a key to further intelligence. The interconnections of the brain allow the singular genius to increase genius by applying awareness to other talents or developmental issues.

Once again, learning the discipline of developing personal talents in early life (when neural pathways are the most plastic and early habits can create lifelong, nearly automatic responses) sets the stage for a much greater range of achievement than if it is learned in later life. It is the integrity of honest self-evaluation, and the morality of delayed gratification that builds genius. Perhaps I will talk about evil genius in this context at some future time. Suffice to say, genius or talent can be used for good or evil, and when children learn the difference between the two they will be better equipped to use their gifts for good.

The value of early childhood development of intelligence is inestimable, and the unique traits and innate abilities we have are born of God and given to edify ourselves and others. We are given the abilities we need to navigate through our life circumstances and learn personally about the purpose and meaning of life as individuals.