Let’s look at some really humble sayings attributed to geniuses:

genius is Interesting: Plato

The inexperienced in wisdom and virtue, ever occupied with feasting and such, are carried downward, and there, as is fitting, they wander their whole life long, neither ever looking upward to the truth above them nor rising toward it, nor tasting pure and lasting pleasures. Like cattle, always looking downward with their heads bent toward the ground and the banquet tables, they feed, fatten, and fornicate. In order to increase their possessions they kick and butt with horns and hoofs of steel and kill each other, insatiable as they are.

A hopeless description, if you ask me.


The first philosophers, in investigating the truth and the nature of things, wandered, as if led by ignorance, into a certain… path. Hence, they say that no being is either generated or corrupted, because it is necessary that what is generated should be generated either from being or non-being…

The first philosophers, says Aristotle, wandered as followers to none else but ignorance itself.


Each of these private teachers who work for pay … inculcates nothing else than these opinions of the multitude which they opine when they are assembled and calls this knowledge wisdom.

In other words, private teachers working for pay in his day are posers; pseudo-intellectuals; unlike himself.

I realized that it was not by wisdom that poets write their poetry, but by a kind of nature or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets; for these also say many beautiful things, but do not know anything of what they say.

Whatever happened to “all I know is I know nothing.”

Let’s look at more modern “geniuses”.


Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions that differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.

Simply put, most people have weak minds.

The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny, however, is alleviated by their lack of consistency.

My humble-o-meter is stuck at – 1000.

It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind.

Yet some think he really said that thing about the fish climbing a tree.


If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

You may protest, “this Newton’s giants quote is actually the height of humility!” But as soon as those very words make it through your lips, you may realize the oxymoron, and perhaps the truth about its humility factor of a genius.

First of all, Newton refers to some people—the people he studied from—as giants. Even Newton knows as much about relativity to understand that there are no giants without men of ordinary stature. In other words:

‘If I were to admit it while flirting with the idea that I have provided you people with some monumental insight about the universe far beyond what my contemporaries have done.

I would prefer to say it is because I capitalized on the progress made by the titans of thought who are very much unlike common men such as you.

Note that my contemporaries also read those works, but I either did a better studying or they are inherently men of weaker intellect.’

Very little is humble about this. And about the giants, he said:

Plato is my friend — Aristotle is my friend — but my greatest friend is truth.

It’s either these giants have a thing for dwarfs or he’s not much smaller, to consider them his friends; where many would delightedly say, master.

The genius who does not know it is one who is essentially ignorant. If one has a conception of what defines greatness in any domain.

if they can identify this greatness in others, they ought to be able to identify it in themselves. Poor judgment is always poor judgment, what’s left is hypocrisy. Jon Bellion puts it aptly in his song:

I can’t pretend I’m not talented
For me to fake humble’s a corny way to be arrogant.


A fellow of mediocre talent will remain a mediocrity, whether he travels or not; but one of superior talent (which without impiety I cannot deny that I possess) will go to seed if he always remains in the same place.

We know that the above accounts do not paint the full picture. Many times, elements of what we may call humility are expressed. Like this one supposedly by Socrates:

I myself know nothing, except just a little, enough to extract an argument from another man who is wise and to receive it fairly.

We may find words of a similar spirit by most of the persons quoted above. This should not be confusing, as there is actually a method to the arrogance of genius:

The genius is either apparently proud or humble depending on what direction it looks. When it looks to the heavens, it is consumed by the complexity of the cosmos, feeling eternally grateful whatever ray of comprehensibility manages to break through the cracks. When it looks around, it is disgusted by the incurable plague of stupidity exhibited by the unenlightened. The arrogance does not stem from a belittling of the fellow man, but the higher exaltation of truth above all else.

Newton’s words reflect the former site of the emotional coin:

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

On the other hand, Goethe expresses the latter:

I have often felt a bitter sorrow at the thought of the German people, which is so estimable in the individual and so wretched in the generality. A comparison of the German people with other peoples arouses a painful feeling, which I try to overcome in every possible way.

The mysteries of the cosmos have a humbling effect on whoever tries to unlock them. But the idea of the genius eternally humble sage leads to a paradox if genius is supposed to know their own humility.

At the curtains close, we sign out with Picasso:

When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.

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Also, you can read: High IQ individuals lack social skills why do people say that?

[PS: All quotes are from Wikiquote]