Date of Degree
An exposition of the artistic genius invokes the perennial challenge to determine intersections between ethics (or morality) and aesthetics. As the human figure of the aesthetic realm, the genius meets its match in two counterparts of the ethical realm: the saint and the monster. Indeed, the genius shares traits with both figures, drawing closer to the saint in its communicative capacity while also revealing a prodigious nature more akin to the monster. This dissertation poses the following question: between the saint and the monster, does the genius resonate more with one than with the other? As one strategy to find an answer, the dissertation identifies and develops criteria to structure a comparative analysis. Ultimately proposing a stronger alliance between the genius and the saint than between the genius and the monster, the dissertation explores the ways that humans define these three figures, and how through those definitions humans consider and revise their own dispositions and capacities.
McKinley, Mary Clare Feldmann, "Three Faces of Human Exceptionalism: Genius, Saint, Monster" (2015). CUNY Academic Works.