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Month of the Greats: What Constitutes Greatness (Discussion)


Gudrean
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Im asuming gretness of the mind meanns they posesed dispositins or els latre devlvoped eithre aboev average cognitive inteligence or charisma or cunning whch could haev helped thm towards achievin greatness. If so, the first reson why they would not have achiev greatness would be thy posesed dispositons for one of thoe things, but were nit able to devlope them do to lack of oportunity in childhood an into adullthood - the reson why we dont see geniuses in moer primitivve societies much is becuse theyy lackd an acadmic seting in which to fluorish and so whiel they may be excelent at makin conections, they dont haev much knowldge availble to them on whch to discover more with, for exmple. 

 

Seconnd reson wuold be maybe thy delvoped theyre inherannt abilitis or acquierd a skill that thy cultiivated to the fullest or ner-fullest, but social and/or personall resons block them from achiving a positin wher they mght be great. A persnn mght be the most qulified due to vision and inteligence to run a country, but due to lak of funds or manpowwr or they haev a scandolous past that wil work aginst them, they can nevre get it - basic lak of oportunity. Personall problms often contribuute to th social in modrn societies - wher in thhe tribal gruop, neurotic and/or psychotc geniusses cuold be haild as medicine men, shamanns, soem spiritul leader, or evn an anarchic warior, in modrn societis they aer severly chalenged due to th stigma and prejdice of mental illness (and arguably anyy deviation from neurotypicall) and so evn if they can ovrecome that rathre end up in an uot of hospitals, theyrer achievmnts are oftn not given crediit until awhiel after they die due to no oen wishin to asociate with so odious a personn in life. And of cuorse thts not the only personal issue that can inhibit gretness - ones religous/moral philosphy can, thyre political philosphhy, poverty, family issues, etc. (and oen can see hiw easlily all of these can be also includded as social reasons wyh they are blocked or prevnted).

 

Third wuold be temporal and spatial resons - the certin time and plaec taht person was born in, This prety much conects with alot of the aboev reasons (for exampl, a potentialy great preson bein born into povrty can be counted as an inital preventionn from thm devloping their innate dispositins, but it is cause of thm being born in th "wrong" plaec if not also the "wronng" time). Soem people born wuold have maed great tribal chieftins or warlords and hd their naem pased down in myths or as histoical fact - but becuse they were born today wth such a mindsset, they may jusst turn uot to be a criminal - some peple wuold haev made great generals, but becuse thre is no war at tht momnt, evn if they become a general, thy arent goin to haev thyre name much enhancd to the glory it cuold have been in wartiem. Ton of examples.

 

This isnt set in stone - they mostly ovrelap - but taht somewht sums up resons why a great mind doesnt alwys achieve greatnes. For record, thuogh Tesla probaly dinnt get the recognitin he desrved, hes achievd considrebly moer gretness than othres, as he at lest has a scientific unit naemd aftre him (T - Tesla, for magentic fields), and his naem is oftn bruoght up in scienc fiction - much moer than most people wil evre get. 

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So we have discussed "greatness" in the acts of others, but what about Greatness of the mind? This week I would like to discuss those who possessed a great mind that did or did not lead to great things and if not, why?

 

I'll go first in saying one great mind that was never given his due was one of my favorites, Nikola Tesla.

 

ea08_tesla_edison.jpg

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ive known a lot of people with great minds who never achieved greatness because they never sought it. that was part of their greatness of mind. many of my teachers had truly great minds, not just intelligence. selflessness, generosity of spirit. patience... it really is a virtue, and I don't have any so I admire it in others. and the miraculous ability to get ...sometimes very lazy and oppositional children... (these are qualities I have in abundance and they both peaked at 15, so high honors to anyone who got anything through my skull) to not only learn but to want to learn.

 

I'd list them but they wouldn't care I I or anyone remembered their names. they only care that they helped us.

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ive known a lot of people with great minds who never achieved greatness because they never sought it. that was part of their greatness of mind. many of my teachers had truly great minds, not just intelligence. selflessness, generosity of spirit. patience... it really is a virtue, and I don't have any so I admire it in others. and the miraculous ability to get ...sometimes very lazy and oppositional children... (these are qualities I have in abundance and they both peaked at 15, so high honors to anyone who got anything through my skull) to not only learn but to want to learn.

 

I'd list them but they wouldn't care I I or anyone remembered their names. they only care that they helped us.

I have a couple of these...hehehe but seriously teachers who teach because they want to "reach" children who need it are definitely GREAT in my opinion!!!! Let us honor them and their spirit of giving of themselves!!

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Moral courage.  There were/are many who have stood up to the tyrant, for the innocent, whose lives and deeds are not known.  They are no less "great" than the one's who are known.

 

It is their actions that matter not their publicity.

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I won't speak about great thinkers who thunk thoughts but I have always felt that mental greatness is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time.  In this sense, with a little effort, everybody can achieve something like greatness - the ability to find clarity amidst confusion and conflict.

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I won't speak about great thinkers who thunk thoughts but I have always felt that mental greatness is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time.  In this sense, with a little effort, everybody can achieve something like greatness - the ability to find clarity amidst confusion and conflict.

I can't hold less than twelve thoughts at a time... that's not greatness, it's .... you figure it out.

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worryshirtfinal_zps3c340cc7.png

 

Allow me to clarify, felicitous feline.  Mental greatness is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time without being torn asunder by the competing forces.

 

Let's say I hold dear to Idea A.  I was raised to live according to Idea A and I base many of my decisions on Idea A.  But I also expose myself to new ideas frequently in the pursuit of something scholarly and, in the course of my studies, I find I need to study Idea B.  Now, Idea B is opposed to the basic tenements of Idea A but I still have to study and examine it.  At this point, I can do one of a few things.

 

I can flip my wig.

I can get offended.

I can forsake Idea A.

I can short change Idea B.

I can temporarily set aside the reservations of Idea A in order than I understand Idea B while resuming my life upon completing my studies, a little dirtier for the effort but successful in my task.

 

I can tell you that I was a pro at the first four (and I'll likely do them again in the future) and it takes a real effort to accomplish the fifth.  It harshed my Zen thing but I emerged victorious and life is a little bit richer for the effort.

Edited by Wren of the Brown
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I won't speak about great thinkers who thunk thoughts but I have always felt that mental greatness is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time.  In this sense, with a little effort, everybody can achieve something like greatness - the ability to find clarity amidst confusion and conflict.

 

And I call that cognitive dissonance

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It also turns out I'm not the first person who has said something like this.  F. Scott Fitzgerald said "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise."

 

http://www.esquire.com/features/the-crack-up

 

To this end, much of our ambition is based upon internal conflict (or cognitive dissonance or whatever you want to call it.)  We see and understand that the odds are against us but we have a definite goal in mind which requires us to work against those odds.  It's a very peculiar thing to say our beliefs are "out of tune" if we wish to hope against hope and strive knowing we may well suffer defeat.

Now if I want to walk off a bridge and hope that I may fly by flapping my arms and thinking happy thoughts, that is not any form of mental greatness and I should hope we have all agreed upon that.

Edited by Wren of the Brown
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(work, spring planting, mafia, and unrelated events and activities slowed the discussion, but I have been reading with interest and will contribute more when I can, apologies)

 

I let Mother's Day pass without a nod to great parenting, without which civilization would fail. not that children who've been raised... by less than great parents... can't and don't achieve personal greatness. but the overall health of the society could not be maintained in the absence of the personal sacrifices, consistent long term devotion to a complex and ever changing goal, common sense and intuitive leaps necessary to great parenting.

 

that's why I raise cats and plants.

 

and yes, I did remember to call mom this time :).

 

other kinds of greatness... I think greatness of mind is a bit overrated, or perhaps greatness of spirit and soul are undervalued.

 

there are many who's IQs are more than a standard deviation below the mean who are great, and good, human beings.

 

and here are those whose minds work so differently from the neurotypical that their greatness can easily be overlooked, as taltos explained better than i could... unless they somehow manage to break through the static to successfully communicate great ideas in a way the world at large can understand... and profit from... I'm thinking if someone like temple grandin. but for everyone like her there are millions with minds as great that will never be understood, and that's our loss.

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Cindy brings up a "great" point about greatness of spirit and soul. Let's discuss people of great spirit and/or soul. and btw Cindy, Temple Grandin is a great mind and soul for sure, I love her, I have an autistic son and a daughter with Aspergers so I definitely see the greatness in non typical minds and lives!!!

 

 

A few people who I find to have been of great spirit/soul are Mother Teresa, Audrey Hepburn, and Irena Sendler.

 

Irena Sendler's story is so worth reading, this woman saved the lives of 2500 children in the holocaust by sneaking them out of the Warsaw Ghetto and finding them new homes. When she was finally caught by the Germans they broke her feet and legs and beat her severly and she still lived to the age of 98. She was even up for a Nobel Peace Prize but lost to Al Gore =(((

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perhaps you can think of it as the part of you that has courage and empathy and strength and love

 

or not

 

would an alt definition of spirit make sense?

 

I'll explain it better awake if I can.

 

I'm sure you'll understand it as a quality of mind separate from intelligence or craft but the words are failing me

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I dont think I undrstand it, least not basd on my mind. I haev my intellect, which is a sum of my logic and ablity to rationlise and make determinationns abuot how othre people are behving and how I shuold react, then I have my emotionall brain, which is usualy net destructive becuse of its usuall angre and buots of ecstasy which usualy results in violence, and then ther is soemthing in between where I cn soemtimes harness thos emotions with a trouch of logic and do soemthing creative, liek art, or act on a reason taht, whiel not logical, it is at lest a coherannt reason taht I formulated rathre than puer, unformulated reaction. So not suer what then qualifies as spirit - wuold it be the personall morals formulated in the intellect and in the intermediate zone?

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this might not make sense... i do have a soul so it's hard or me to speak from outside my own paradigm to explain what I mean, and i guess off topic but... ill try.

 

I'm pasting some definitions of spirit that are close but... I think you will likely see them as aspects of neurobiology, and that's a valid way to look at them... but they're aspects that are qualitatively different, IMO, from the greatness of mind we've been talking about up till... few posts back.

 

The vital principle or animating force within living beings.

 

Incorporeal consciousness.

 

The part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings: Though unable to join us today, they are with us in spirit.

 

The essential nature of a person or group.

 

6. A person as characterized by a stated quality: He is a proud spirit.

 

An inclination or tendency of a specified kind: Her actions show a generous spirit.

 

A causative, activating, or essential principle: The couple's engagement was announced in a joyous spirit.[/b]

 

spirits A mood or an emotional state: The guests were in high spirits. His sour spirits put a damper on the gathering.

 

A particular mood or an emotional state characterized by vigor and animation: sang with spirit.

 

Strong loyalty or dedication: team spirit.

 

 

 

 

the bolded parts are closest to what I mean, but ... doubt that helps bridge the gap much. best I can manage. seeing the same things from different perspectives I suppose.

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Incorperel is nit in the human or animal eqution in my mind and if it vital principle or animting force is not metabolism but hs to do with "un-bodiness," i annot touch basis of taht either. Im going to taek esential nature as soem behviour or behaviours that reocuring defines the indiviual, i.e. personalty, in which caes some people haev "great" personalties regardless of their inteligence or physicall handicaps, but the definition of greatt there is diferent than the way I defined it earlier. Great here is excelent, somethinng one approvess of or admires on a small scael but apparently is not enuogh for othres to carry thm immemorial into fame - great earlier refers to one's faem/reputation and the abilties or specil circumstannces that gave them taht fame. So not realy suer what we mean by greatness of "spirit" - are we tlking abuot the micro moral qualityy of a charactre that dosnt get recognitin much in the gruop or are we jus talking abuot the personality of great(renowned) people?

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my grandmother had great spirit and soul... her mind was a bit fractured but she never lost the ability to love, and never had it in her to hate. I hate easily. she never scolded or punished or even corrected me for anything except when I used the word hate. her only rule in life, never hate.

 

the ability to love and not hate is a huge part of greatness of spirit. the animal within us rages like any beast, but the divine... or the spirit... calls us to love. and it's the hardest thing in the world to do, to love everyone when our blood is hot and our anger is quick. so I'd call that greatness of spirit.

 

courage, especially in the face of insurmountable odds, is greatness of spirit. I thinking of the Warsaw ghetto uprising specifically, the people who made the choice to stand and fight until they died, knowing they would die, knowing their lives were already over but giving their last breaths to defying evil. the courage of a last stand, I think that's greatness of spirit.

 

independence, the willingness to risk everything or freedom, to give up everything of comfort, the bravery to walk away from what binds us to vanity and wheel grinding repetition... here I'm thinking of r. proenecke (sp?), dont know if you've seen alone in the wilderness? man in his 50s, worked in some factory his whole life... almost lost his vision in an accident and decided to walk away. went alone into Alaska, took a backpack with just the metal tool heads he'd need to build a cabin... made the hafts when he got there, cut down the trees, built everything he needed... lived alone in outrageous but gloriously beautiful conditions for more than 30 years, most of that time never speaking to another human... to be free. to live what he dreamed, to put up with anything to live life on his own terms, and to hell with the pension, the health insurance, the electricity, the radio, the warmth of another human touch... greatness of spirit and bravery I wish I had.

 

but I don't, so I'll get back to work now. I can't walk away, though my spirit is screaming a me to run far and fast.

 

 

and the rest of me wants to keep typing :)

Edited by cindy
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