Friday, September 5, 2008

The human failings of genius

Today's Wall Street Journal has a review of a new book about physicist Albert Einstein, who won a Nobel Prize in 1921.

Titled "Einstein's Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius," the book chronicles Einstein's mistakes and "fundamental failures" for the purpose of "showing us why his achievement was all the greater for them."

The reviewer contends "there is a tendency to of genius, treating them as if they were immortal gods," something that Einstein was uncomfortable with, saying:

"It is not fair to select a few individuals for boundless admiration and to attribute superhuman powers of mind and of character to them."

When we do so, writes the reviewer, "we make less of the person, not more, forgetting and simplifying their struggle."