Originally posted by @mchill
Back in high school I observed 2 students with amazing intellectual potential. Super grades, sky high college board scores, and nearly photographic memories. One was a girl whose only goal in life was to get married and have 2 kids, which she did, and other than raising 2 daughters, she did little else than work in a local supermarket. The other was a young ...[text shortened]... ellects that hold them back, while others with brilliant minds wander aimlessly into mediocrity?
That is certainly an interesting question.
First of all, there is a lot of work that goes into becoming a stand out person. Even if you are a genius, you have to remember that there millions of geniuses, and you also have to remember that everyone has different interests, and some of these fields do experience breakthroughs while others do not. Many just stagnate. Indeed, there might even be an overrepresentation of bad ideas in breakthrough philosophy or theology simply because the previous 2,000+ years is full of established, good ideas that no one can get recognition for anymore.
Let me also say... I was interested in pursuing a career in academia in Philosophy, and am still thinking of going back to do to that. But I can tell you this...
- The pay isn't as good as what many can get in the private market. Without even very specific qualifications you can land jobs that will pay you more than any Professor gig unless you are a very established professor.
- The job security is worse. They don't really hand out tenure much anymore. The markets are contracting.
- The process is longer and involves putting aspects of your life on hold. Do you really want to be 32 years old doing post doc work and wondering if you can land a job in some country you've never been to before, competing against 200 other applicants, meanwhile, you want to get married and have a kid..?
- It is chock full of ego and super big personalities. People can be cruel and weird to each other, and even when they aren't doing that, some people will benefit from nepotism and preferential treatment while others who do not even experience anything negative will simply observe this and be discouraged.
And outside of academia, how are intellectuals supposed to eb famous?
Obviously, we can pretend that true genius means just sitting down in a garage and being able to revolutionize the world but that is unrealistic and a silly viewpoint.
You also have this thing where people think it is really prestigious to be a Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, etc., but IDK, man. I've never been interested in that -- especially after I learned about it more. I do not think the yare measures of genius, either.