Excerpts from The Genius Famine - by Ed Dutton and Bruce G Charlton
What is the Endogenous Personality? And why is he so important?
In a nutshell, we argue that the Endogenous personality is the type of a potential genius – a compound of abilities and attitudes, of intelligence and innerness. As a strong generalization: the true geniuses are Endogenous personalities; and it is from Endogenous personalities that geniuses arise.
The Endogenous personality is the ‘inner’ Man; a person whose outlook on life is ‘inward.’ He is inner-directed, inner-driven, inner-motivated; one who uses inner modes of thinking, inner evaluations, in-tuition; one who is to a high degree autonomous, self-sufficient; one who is relatively indifferent to social pressures, influences and inducements.
He stands in stark contrast to the Exogenous personality; that is, to most people. The Exogenous Personality is orientated toward the environment, particularly the social environment. These are people who want more than anything else social (including sexual) status, worldly success; people whose perceptions are directed outwards and who try to align their behaviour with group norms.
When described in such terms, the Endogenous personality might appear anti-social, uncooperative, a dreamer, not the kind of person we might wish to have to deal with on a regular basis. We would probably be accurate in perceiving the Endogenous Personality in this negative way. We probably wouldn’t want to go for a drink with him, let alone be friends with him.
But he is important; he is very important. Because the Endogenous personality is the archetypal ‘genius.’ He is the type of a genius – whether a large scale, world historical genius of the highest level achieved by humanity – a Shakespeare, a Beethoven or an Einstein – or a local, tribal, or town genius; a shaman, a sculptor, an inventor whose name is unrecorded (yet who might be the originator of some great but anonymous ballad, folk song, painting -- or a technological breakthrough such as the spade, spear-thrower, arch or stirrup).
Genuine ‘breakthrough’, world-impact creativity is so rare, so difficult (far more difficult than commonly imagined) that it requires a special kind of mind – a mind especially designed for this kind of work (inner work). There need not be many such men – indeed, there should not be too many, since the necessary mind is relatively unfit for the primary, day-to-day, activities of survival and reproduction of the species. But such men are needed – sooner or later, from time to time.
These are the people who (whether we know their names or not) will almost-certainly be behind the scientific and technical breakthroughs that are the motor of civilization, these are people whose can inspire and unite society moving it towards greater things or out of the depths of despair and ennui; these are the people who can rescue a society on the brink of catastrophe.
The Endogenous personality is recognized because when this kind of creative personality is combined with high ‘general intelligence’, we get a potential genius – of greatness in proportion to their ability.
So, an Inner, Intuitive personality plus high Intelligence (or another special ability) is the Creative Triad and equals the Endogenous personality, or potential genius. The high intelligence serves as a kind of guarantee that the Endogenous personality is positively adapted by his lop-sided focus, and inclination to be a creative specialist problem-solver in society; and is not merely a broken, sick or damaged individual who simply cannot participate in normal society – perhaps through mental or physical illness.
The Endogenous personality will stay focused on a problem longer than most men – and he will look at the problem in a different way. He will deploy different (more inward) procedures of understanding – more detached, more abstracting. Hence he is more likely to see something new and useful in a new and different way.
His stance is less personal. He stands back to a greater extent than most. He sees the problem in a wider scope precisely because he sees the problem detached from normal personal concerns, such as status, sex, or wealth; none of which he really seems to care much about. For him, solving his problem is not a means to an end – a way of gaining status, wealth or sex – it is an end in itself. The inner man gets the greatest satisfaction from inner work – it is what he most wants to do.
In this short book, we will explore the Genius; the Endogenous type of personality including its exceptionally high intelligence. We will argue that the highly able Endogenous personality is indeed the archetypal genius; the engine, in particular, of the original innovations that are vital to civilization itself. Without genius, civilization will certainly continue to decline (and we will show that it is declining), and eventually collapse. With more geniuses, taken notice of, the process would be slowed and – who knows? – perhaps some genius could discover a way out?
We will demonstrate, in more depth, the import-ance to any society of nurturing a small number of such personalities; and, worryingly, we will find that they are less likely to manifest themselves now than was the case just a few generations ago.
We will argue, indeed, that we have a Genius Famine. Genius has now all-but disappeared from public view; partly because intelligence (which is strongly genetic) is in decline in the West, partly because social institutions no longer recognize or nurture genius, and partly because the modern West is actively hostile to genius.
Finally, we will look at what – if anything – can be done to rescue the genius and thus preserve civilization.
However, in order to understand the Endogenous Personality, we need to understand the nature of personality itself, as well as the nature of intelligence, as these two traits are at the heart of the Endogenous personality and of Genius.
The Endogenous personality, as we have discussed, refers to someone who is inner-orientated. Our suggestion is that this personality complex is associated with genuine creativity and – in rare instances, with creative genius. This raises an important question immediately. What does it mean to be creative? What is the nature of creativity?
We can conceive of a Creative Triad. It is composed of (1) Innate ability (2) Inner-motivation, and (3) Intuitive thinking. This triad is the essence of how we use the word ‘creative’ in everyday life. The ‘creative’ type is the ‘arty’ type: the novelist, the poet, and especially the artist; and by extension, also the truly original scientist and technological innovator.
Genius is made possible when all parts of this Triad flow together in a particular way: a person is internally-motivated to pursue that for which he has a natural ability; and does so in an ‘‘intuitive’’ way that mobilizes his deepest self, all his mental powers. Major genius occurs when the ‘natural ability’ dimension is also extremely high.
But people can still be ‘creative’ yet not reach the level of genius, they may be considered as semi- or borderline-genius when their historic impact on a society is real but modest. For example, there are numerous ‘local geniuses’ who are relative geniuses compared to those around them, and make genius type social contributions – but their impact is geographically or temporally restricted. Most geniuses are, in fact, of this type.
And, of course, a potential genius may (for reasons we will discuss later) fail to make an influential break-through or may make a breakthrough that fails to be recognized and acted-upon.
Before turning, then, to the nature of ‘the creative’ we need to be clear on the nature of each of its component parts and how they contribute to creativity and genius. It is clear how ‘innate ability’ does, but what about intuition? What is intuition?
We could approach intuition by stating that intuition is the mode of thought of the private soul/ the real self/ inner consciousness – that is to say the most profound, the most secret, fundamental mode of thought. Intuition can be contrasted with two (lower, subordinated) modes of thinking: passions versus reason; the body v the brain; gut-feelings v head-knowledge; instinct v logic. These two modes are not absolutely distinct, but we think they can usefully be distinguished.
So, what is the thought mode of intuition? It is not by instinct nor by logic – but by something of both, and more. Therefore, intuition is a mode of thinking which simultaneously uses emotion and logic but operating in a context of (for example) motivation, purpose, meaning and relationships. In a nutshell, intuition uses all possible modes of thinking; and this is why intuition leads to a greater feeling of sureness, of certainty, than do other, more partial forms of thought.
The result of intuition is therefore an evaluation which is uniquely convincing because it is validated by the full range of positive responses. It is an insight that satisfies both logic and reason, and also ‘feels’ right. By contrast, if we use only (for example) logic, or only emotions, to evaluate something; then the evaluation will be incomplete, and evaluation in one sub-mode may be contradicted by evaluation in another sub-mode – as when logic and emotions reach different conclusions, point in different directions, contradict one-another – and we feel confused or torn because our head and our heart are in conflict.
Only the evaluations of intuition are fully satisfying, fully convincing, and harmonious. Only the evaluations of intuition mobilize the whole range of thought modes. Thus intuition is the most powerful mode of thought, and the only mode of thought capable of mobilizing the fullest degree of motivation. Intuition is what makes us care most about ideas: it is what engages us with creativity. This is why intuition is necessary to the highest levels of creativity, to the greatest attainments of genius.
Our second question is: what is inner motivation and why is it necessary for creativity and genius?
The genius must combine the inner orientation of the contemplative – in order to find his own problem, the problem he is destined to work on; with an inner motivation towards action directed to solving this problem. He must desire to translate understanding into engagement; not just to contemplate reality, but to ‘solve’ reality.
So, something deep within the genius – and not the promise of an external reward – makes him want to fully comprehend or improve or express the nature of reality. Because his motivation comes from within, and he is focused upon a problem which also comes from within, the genius is not easily discouraged; his drive will enable him – will indeed compel him – to keep pushing and pushing, even when support is withdrawn or he is met by discouragement and failure.
Therefore – when it comes to his own problem – the genius is autonomous, self-motivating, tenacious and stubborn in pursuit of his Destiny. He will see the Genius Quest, as we might term it, through to its conclusion in Illumination or ‘die in the attempt’ – unless he is actively prevented from doing so.
In summary, the creative personality of a genius involves an Inner orientation which includes a basis in intuitive modes of thinking and an inner source of motivation – we will now further explore the nature of this motivation.
The Creative Triad is a minimum requirement, of course, and there are other features that may help to identify a genius. One of the marked features of the Endogenous Personality is a sense of Destiny. This leads to a Quest and, eventually, Illumination. We are prone to think of only the last step in this journey: the Eureka moment’ of Illumination when the genius is flooded with insight and sees the answer to his problem, and what the answer means. But there are at least three distinct phases of which this comes late.
From childhood, youth or early adult life there is a sense of destiny, of having some special role to play. This destiny is accepted, not chosen; so that the task is not to manufacture, invent or devise a destiny; but rather to discover, to find-out the nature of one’s own personal and unique destiny. Such a process of discovery is a matter of trial and error, following hunches, drifting; false leads, blind alleys and red herrings – there is no recipe for finding one’s destiny. Nobody else can do it for you.
After seeking, the genius recognises what it is that he is meant to do (or, meant to attempt): this is his Quest. Now he has to choose – does he embrace his Destiny and accept the Quest? – Or does he refuse? Only he can decide; and he will inevitably decide: the decision is unavoidable.
After prolonged effort – months, years, a decade or more: Eureka moment – Illumination is achieved: the thing is done! (Eureka means something like “I have found it!” and is attributed to Archimedes in his bath.)
The experience accumulated, the skills gained, the understanding achieved during the Quest at last come together and the breakthrough is made. A textbook example would be the English architect Michael Ventris (1922-1956). Ventris was plagued by ill-health as a child (he also suffered from night-blindness and extreme short-sightedness) but was blessed with an ability to learn languages. He met the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851-1941) on a school trip to the Royal Academy in London in 1936, when Ventris was 14. Evans held up some Cretan tablets, written in Linear B script, declaring that nobody could decipher this. Ventris dedicated the rest of his life to cracking Linear B. Ventris finally succeeded in 1952, after which he was reported to lack a sense of purpose. He died in a night time car crash in 1956, aged 34.
Of course there are other phases coming after Illumination – for instance the Illumination must be communicated to others; but beyond a certain minimal effort at recording, reproducing and revealing, effective communication is often ‘in the lap of the gods’ – and beyond the scope of purposive activities of the genius. Then the Illumination must be understood, considered, implemented, and so on.
The usual life of an Endogenous personality is in stark contrast to that of a Conscientious person, helping us to identify who is closer-to and who is further from genius. The Conscientious personality is driven by external social perceptions – he is attuned to peer pressure, he accepts peer evaluations, and may work hard on problems and jobs which are derived from the social milieu.
The Conscientious personality has not chosen his problem; more exactly his problem does not derive from inner sources. He is motivated to act – but by other people, not by trying to solve his own ‘problem.’ The Conscientious personality has no sense of being on a track of Destiny; he does not ‘own’ the problem he is working-on. That line of work may be adopted from obedience, or duty – or as a matter of expediency (e.g. for status, or money, or to get sex). But when a line of work ceases to be externally required, or is externally discouraged, or becomes inexpedient then it will be abandoned.
From this it is clear that the Conscientious personality is not suited to a genius, is un-original and unlikely to lead to breakthroughs. He has the drive to do something in the world; but that something does not derive from within him, and therefore does not mobilize his full inner resources. And his motivation will fail when times are tough – he will not push through discouragements.
In contrast to the externally-orientated Conscientious personality, the Contemplative personality is focused upon the inner world. The mind’s eye is turned inward; and the Contemplative personality is meditative; occupied by thoughts, fantasies, speculations ...
However, the contemplative personality is not creative but ... contemplative. For a Contemplative, ‘action’ is meditative – understanding, experience, the observation of the transcendental such as truth, beauty, virtue, unity... this is what provides the greatest satisfaction.
The Contemplative personality is a dream-er, not a do-er. Therefore, the Contemplative will not summon the long-term, stubborn determination required to do genius-type creative work; the Quest to keep pushing and pushing at a problem until it yields to Illumination – then to communicate the outcome.
The Contemplative personality has the kind of autonomy of ‘public opinion’ which is necessary to creativity – but lacks motivation towards actions, lacks the ‘drive’ to solve a problem – instead he is content to contemplate perceived reality rather than to re-conceptualize reality.
 Robinson, A. (2012). The Man Who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael Ventris. London: Thames and Hudson.