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Hereditary Genius -An Inquiry Into its Laws and Consequences


Hereditary Genius
An Inquiry Into its Laws and Consequences

by Sir Francis Galton

From the Preface:
“The relation between genius in its technical sense (whatever its precise definition may be) and insanity, has been much insisted upon by Lombroso and others, whose views of the closeness of the connection between the two are so pronounced, that it would hardly be surprising if one of their more enthusiastic followers were to remark that So-and-So cannot be a genius, because he has never been mad nor is there a single lunatic in his family. 1 cannot go nearly so far as they, nor accept a moiety of their data, on which the connection between ability of a very high order and insanity is supposed to be established. Still, there is a large residuum of evidence which points to a painfully close relation between the two, and I must add that my own later observations have tended in the same direction, for I have been surprised at finding how often insanity or idiocy has appeared among the near relatives of exceptionally able men. Those who are over eager and extremely active in mind must often possess brains that are more excitable and peculiar than is consistent with soundness. They are likely to become crazy at times, and perhaps to break down altogether. Their inborn excitability and peculiarity may be expected to appear in some of their relatives also, but unaccompanied with an equal dose of preservative qualities, whatever they may be. Those relatives would be “crank,” if not insane.”

This book was written when times were different and much knowledge about intelligence has come to surface since that. One must therefore read this book with that in mind and not adapt the writings without further applying a certain degree of critisism.

This does not mean that none of the ideas are valid today, but rather that some ideas reflect a “common view” that since has been disproved to be assumptions and prejudice.

If some of the ideas seem racist and revolting, bear in mind that your own ancestors most likely shared Sir Galtons world view. And so too did the Government and the Church.

Please find the book free for your consumption here: Hereditary Genius
An Inquiry Into its Laws and Consequences

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