Greatest moral genius

In genius studies, greatest moral genius (GMG:#) refers to a moral philosopher whose ideas or theories on morality and ethics ventures into the genius range of thinking (see: geniuses on).

The following is a work-in-progress ranking of the top moral geniuses of all time:

IQ estimates



Goethe 75 newJohann Goethe
 IQ_O \,=240
IQ MM=225
IQ BR=233
 IQ_B \,=215|#2
IQ SK=215|#4
 IQ_{CB} \,=213
 IQ_C \,=210|#1
IQ SS=210, 200+, 188
 IQ_W \,=200
 IQ_O \,=180
Stated, based on the principles of affinity chemistry and evolution, that the what is "moral" in nature and society, is determined by the "moral symbols" of physical chemistry, Torbern Bergman's affinity reaction symbols, specifically; a theory which he outlined in coded form, in his Elective Affinities (1809).

Kant 75 Immanuel Kant
 IQ_O \,=250+
 IQ_C \,=175
In 1785, introduced his famous “categorical imperative” of moral action, influential to many;

“There is only a single categorical imperative and it is this: act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.
— Immanuel Kant (1797), Metaphysics of Morals (Ѻ)

oft-cited in modern terms as certain actions being a “moral imperative”.

Machiavelli 75Niccolo Machiavelli
 IQ_B \,=165

John Stuart MillJohn Mill
 IQ_O \,=200
IQ EM=190
 IQ_B \,=185
 IQ_{CB} \,=183
 IQ_C \,=180

Bruce Lindsay 75Bruce Lindsay

In c.1958, building on Kant’s categorical imperative (1785) and Ostwald’s energetics imperative (1906), during his physics lectures at Brown University, began to teach students an outline of a “thermodynamics imperative”, using entropy to base ethics; later elaborated in his 1963 book The Role of Science in Civilization, among other talks.

“The second law conveys, to me, the distinct suggestion that we as individuals should endeavor to consume as much entropy as possible to increase the order in our environment. This is the thermodynamic imperative, possibly not unworthy to rank alongside the categorical imperative of Kant or even the golden rule.”
— Bruce Lindsay (1970), “The Larger Cybernetics” (pg. 134)

In his last years (age 83) he was getting close to the correct view of morals based on the minimum principles of physics:

“Hamilton’s principle, e.g., says that for a conservative dynamical system the motion between any two instants of time is such that the time integral of the difference between the kinetic and potential energies taken between these two instances has a stationary value. It has as if the system had a certain purpose to satisfy. A rational individual is said to arrange his actions so as to be sure of achieving his fundamental desires, whether it be to accumulate wealth or gain power over his fellow men. In particular, the aim here is almost always to try to attain the given desired end at minimum cost in human effort. This strongly suggests a heuristic connection with the [Gibbsian] minimum principles of physics.”
— Bruce Lindsay (1983), “Social Exemplifications of Physical Principles”

In other words, according to Lindsay, although he does not say this explicitly, an ethics based on Gibbs energy minimization is the modern realization of Kant’s categorical imperative.

Jeremy Bentham 75Jeremy Bentham

utilitarianismEnglish jurist and philosopher;

Snow is the spokesperson for the technologico-Benthamite reduction of human experience to the quantifiable, the measurable, the manageable.”
Frank Leavis (1962), “The Significance of C.P. Snow”

noted for his 1789 Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, wherein he took ideas from: Helvetius, Denis Diderot, Voltaire, John Locke, and David Hume, while simultaneously discarding ideas from: Plato, Aristotle, and Immanuel Kant, e.g. his "categorical imperative" (1785), and therein introduced the so-called: ‘utilitarianism’ system of morality, wherein he suggested that we forget about parsing "good and evil" and work logically to minimize pain and increase pleasure; aimed at the greatest happiness for the greatest number; teacher of John Mill.

James Froude 75James Froude

His 1849 Nemesis of Faith, wherein he digresses on the “will of the copper” in relation to heated and cooled magnets, was burned in moral philosophy class at Oxford;

“What is man the wiser or the happier for knowing how the air-plants feed, or how my centuries the flint-stone was in forming, unless the knowledge of them can be linked on to humanity, and elucidate for us some of our hard moral mysteries?”

in 1854, he became the first English translator of Goethe’s Elective Affinities, done anonymously per reasons of caution as to its Christianity overthrowing contents

David Hume 75David Hume
 IQ_C \,=180 Oft-referred to “Newton of moral sciences” (Foley, 1990);

“There has been an opinion very industriously propagated by certain philosophers, that morality is susceptible of demonstration; and though no one has ever been able to advance a single step in those demonstrations; yet it is taken for granted, that this science may be brought to an equal certainty with geometry or algebra. Upon this supposition, vice and virtue must consist in some relations.”
— David Hume (1740), Treatise on Human Nature (§3.1-3.3: Of Morals, pgs. 455-603; quote, pg. 463)

his 1740 A Treatise of Human Nature (1740), which its morality section, wherein the “Is-ought problem” is presented (Ѻ)(Ѻ), and “On the Immortality of the Soul” (c.1770), where, according to Miguel Unamuno, launching points, in respect to criticism, for Immanuel Kant’s 1788 Critique of Practical Reason, wherein his categorical imperative is presented.

Nietzsche 75Friedrich Nietzsche
IQ quora 2=190, 210
IQ SS=160, 200, 200+
 IQ_O \,=180
 IQ_O \,=186
 IQ_O \,=180
His Beyond Good and Evil (1886) and On the Genealogy of Moral s (1887) attempted to digress on morals from a nihilistic and or atheistic point of view.

Cicero 75Cicero


Ostwald 75Wilhelm Ostwald

In c.1906, building on Kant’s categorical imperative (1785), introduced an energetics-based “energetic imperative”.
William Wollaston
(1659-1724) ↑↑

His 1722 The Religion of Nature Delineated, which contains the “pursuit of happiness” moral ideology of the American declaration of independence, attempted, supposedly, the first systematic proof of a system of ethics based on nature alone, without revealed wisdom, akin to what Newton had done, via inducing moral laws through a mathematical model of the world (Ѻ); seems to have been the goad behind Hume’s 1740 morality chapter of his Treatise on Human Nature.

Francis Edgeworth 75Francis Edgeworth

His 1881 Mathematical Psychics: an Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences, in the first part of which he attempts to meld utilitarianism (principle of maximal happiness) with the Lagrangian-Hamiltonian description of the energy of a system (principle of maximum energy), along the way citing and discussing the ideas of thinkers, including: Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900), and his ethical hedonism theory, Jeremy Bentham, Stanley Jevons, among others, all done in aims to outline or make a calculus, i.e. minima or maxima calculation, based model of the humanities, or what he calls “utilitarian calculus”.

Socrates 75Socrates
IQ SS=235
 IQ_O \,=185+
 IQ_B \,=160
Purported a “moral genius like Kant” according to Albert Schweitzer (1899).
Henry Sidgwick

Argued, supposedly, that ‘good is indefinable’ and that ‘ought is unanalyzable’ (Moore, 1903) (Ѻ); influenced Francis Edgeworth.
George Moore

His 1903 Principia Ethica (Ѻ), attempted to argue, via citation to Sidgwick’s ‘good is indefinable’ conjecture, that one cannot equate the property of ‘goodness’ with some non-moral property, whether naturalistic (e.g. pleasure) or supernatural (e.g. god’s command).


The following are related quotes:

“Through causes of which we are ignorant, analogous to those which produce a great poet, or a great painter, men of moral genius arise, who ‘feel’ what others do not feel, exactly as the poet or painter feel and see what others appear to be insensible to.”
— Theodule Ribot (c.1880) (Ѻ)

“In analogy to the ‘religious genius’, the ‘moral genius’ likewise presents itself as the accomplishment of a higher unity in evaluating phenomena on the basis of the dominant moral determination of the person. Socrates accomplished this unity in appraising the world of appearances morally without feeling the need for extending this unity to the whole field of events and seizing as unitary all happenings in the world in a moral evaluation. Kant, too, is a moral genius like Socrates—and one of overwhelming magnitude. He is a moral genius in that he comprehends and undertakes scientific research merely for the purpose of demonstrating the reality of the moral law. At the moment when, in the development of the epistemological problem posed by Descartes, the consequences were drawn from his moral indifference—which a Spinoza could still pass over lightly—Kant, in his critical investigations, so transforms the setting and solution of the problem that it tends toward a moral interpretation of the world.”
— Albert Schweitzer (1899), The Essence of Faith: Philosophy of Religion (pg. #)

“It is the privilege of man’s moral genius, impersonated by inspired individuals, to advance ethical axioms which are so comprehensive and so well founded that men will accept them as grounded in the vast mass of their individual emotional experience. Ethical axioms are found and tested not very differently from the axioms of science. Truth is what stands the test of experience.”
Albert Einstein (c.1940), Out of My Later Years

See also
● Moral power

1. Massoudi, Mehrdad. (2016). “A Possible Ethical Imperative Based on Entropy Law” (pdf), Entropy, Discussion, Nov 3.

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