mindgarden saidPer another recent thread, you all do realize, I hope, that Newton did all of his genius work during the summer when he was 24 years old. After that, he descended into politics, numerology, fruitless alchemy, and by all accounts was quite an asshole.
Which reminds me to list Robert Hooke. If you don't know him, you should. The original grad student, one might say. A clever farm boy who was hired to do all of the actual experiments for the Royal Society. Because gentlemen couldn't get their hands dirty. Oft rumored to be gay, or possibly just very homely. A lifelong bachelor, in any case. Boyles' experiments on the gas laws? Hooke really did them. Newton hated him, possibly because he actually did some of the work that Isaac took credit for. (Others speculate about angry ex-lovers...) When Hooke died, Newton took over the Royal Society, and had all of Hookes papers and effects burned. Nevertheless, Hooke is credited as one of the fathers of microbiology (first to describe living tissue made of cells), Horology (first to build an accurate watch), and seismology (devised the mathematics that describe earthquakes). Among lots of other stuff.
I do know about Hooke. But I don't know all about the personalities of these people from the far past. If Newton was an "asshole" then I certainly wouldn't want him as a friend. But I'd still like to know how his mind worked.
My Mother, whom I truly believe was very smart, as was my Father, always told me to try to associate with people smarter than me.
She said I would only learn from smarter people. People my own intelligence would only teach me what I already knew. And stupid people would keep me as stupid as them.
Perhaps a simplification. Because in reality I've learned things from people of all intelligence levels. I've found that everyone can have something of interest to share, perhaps some insight, some viewpoint, that I've never thought of before myself. A thing that has validity.
I used to say, when people might ask me what I wanted for a Christmas or birthday present, or whatever it was: "I'd most like to have a new idea I haven't thought of before." And I was being truthful, and perhaps at the same time a lame attempt at modesty.
Because I hate to receive gifts. My job is to give them, not to get them. And not surprisingly, I never did get a new idea as a gift. And after a remark like that, usually no gift at all, either! LOL! Which suited me perfectly.
But on balance my Mom's advice still guides me. I prefer the company of people smarter than me, assuming they can tolerate me in turn. Just like my Dad, who was insatiably curious and wanted to learn about new things until he died at 84, I want to do the same.
And one way is by meeting smart people. Even if sometimes, as you claim Newton was, they are assholes. I'll try to filter out the assholiness. I just wanna know what they know, not get into bed with them.