Universal genius

Abu Al-Biruni
A 1974 cover story article on Iranian polymath Abu Al-Biruni, who is described as a universal genius, for his his multifarious work in astronomy, history, botany, pharmacology, geology, poetry, philosophy, mathematics, geography, and comparative religion, and the humanities. [2]
In intelligence rankings, universal genius is a term used to signify a genius, polymath, or person with a great or varied learning, albeit to a heightened degree, with a near universal grasp of knowledge, in possession of a mean IQ of 195 range (mean IQs of those listed below) or at a minimum an IQ of 170, of which there are about a dozen known. [1]

The following page lists the known group of people called “universal geniuses”, the foremost example being Leonardo da Vinci, to whom it seems this term was first invented, since becoming his tag line, so to speak, along with: Gottfried Leibniz, Johann Goethe, Hermann Helmholtz, Emanuel Swedenborg, Albert Einstein, John Neumann, Benjamin Franklin, Homer, Richard Wagner, and Abu Al-Biruni, Hypatia, among others (a work in progress).

The following is the list of the known and cited-to-be "universal geniuses", in chronological order, according to year of reaction end (death):

Homer (800-701BC)

“Goethe was a universal genius such as even Greece had not known, except perhaps (who can say?) in Homer.”
Humphry Trevelyan (1981), Goethe and the Greeks [11]

“Temple praises Homer as 'the greatest universal genius'.”
Kirsti Simonsuuri (2010), Homer’s Original Genius [16]

Hypatia (350-415)

“In Fact, the only woman acknowledged as a universal genius [is] Hypatia, a somewhat obscure and mysterious woman of ancient times.”
Julie Creech (c.2005) [16]

Abu Al-Biruni (973-1048)

● Gafurov, Bobojan. (1974). “Al-Biruni: A Universal Genius in Central Asia a Thousand Years Ago”, Courier (pgs. 4-9), Jun.
The Mind of Leonardo
An online/book/museum showcase of the mind of Leonardo Da Vinci, at the Institute and Museum of the History of Science, Florence, Italy. [31]

Da Vinci (1452-1519)

“That ‘universal genius’ Leonardo da Vinci, as Freud called him, had enlisted Freud’s interest years before he ventured to write on ‘this great and mysterious man’.”
— Peter Gay (1964), “Introduction” to Sigmund Freud: Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood [30]

“Freud had long been fascinated by the enigma which represented for a psychoanalyst the life and work of the universal genius of the Renaissance that was Leonardo da Vinci. His study of Leonardo, written in 1910, enabled Freud to introduce several fundamental psychoanalytic concepts such as sublimation and narcissism and to describe a particular type of homosexuality.”
— Jean-Michel Quinodoz (2005). Reading Freud: A Chronological Exploration of Freud’s Writings [32]

● Silvestri, Paolo de. (2009). Leonardo or the Universal Genius. ATS Italia Editrice.
Leonardo da Vinci: Universal Genius (BBC, 2007) – YouTube.

Erasmus (1466-1536)

“Erasmus was a man of universal genius whose rare capacities would have surfaced in any age and under any circumstances.”
— Daniel Robinson (1995), An Intellectual History of Psychology (pg. 137)

Gottfried Leibniz (statue)
A Leipzig University stature of Gottfried Leibniz and “universal genius” caption (link).

Leibniz (1646-1716)

“The trend towards the already mentioned diversified society of ‘specialists’ and the related danger of narrower way of thinking (idiot savant) necessarily leads to a growing helplessness of the individual. Related to this is a growing blind belief in science. Since Leibnitz, probably the last universal genius, we know more and more about a shrinking area of knowledge. Biology and physics, chemistry and medicine are divided already today into dozens of individual disciplines, which like a ‘hydra’, keep dividing into other individual disciplines.”
— Hans-Wolff Graf (1995), “We Need a New World View” [21]

“Leibniz was maybe the last universal genius incessantly active in fields of theology, philosophy, mathematics, physics, engineering, history, diplomacy, philology and many others.”
— K. Eriksson (1996), Computational Differential Equations [20]

“Having already postulated differential and integral calculus by the time he visited Spinoza at The Hague, Leibniz spent the next several years of his life developing theories of knowledge and truth that resulted in hundreds of essays and dozens of key encounters with other thinkers that in turn spurred them on to great discoveries and formulations. In his time a belief arose that he was the last universal genius, a judgment made about Goethe that the great minds of Europe were to make three generations later.”
— Larry Peer and Diane Hoeveler (1998), “A Lens for Comparative Romanticisms” [22]

“Remarkable for his encyclopedic knowledge and diverse accomplishments outside the fields of philosophy and mathematics, he was perhaps the last universal genius, spanning the whole of contemporary knowledge.”
Staff (2003). The Houghton Mifflin Dictionary of Biography [12]

“Remembered for his philosophy of ‘preestablished harmony’ on one hand and his bitter feud with Isaac Newton of the invention of calculus on the other, Leibniz was, according to one modern writer, the ‘last universal genius.’ His famous claim that this is the ‘best of all possible worlds’, was later ridiculed by Voltaire in Candide.
— Alan Cutler (2004),The Seashell on the Mountaintop [13]

“Leibniz was one of the greatest geniuses in the history of human thought, perhaps the last universal genius.”
Peter Kreeft (2009), Socrates Meets Kant [14]

“Many consider Gottfried Leibniz history’s last universal genius, a walking encyclopedia of the already-known and inventor of the radically new who juggled so many ambitious projects that he designed a chair in which he could both sleep and work, so as to not waste a minute moving from one location to another.”
— Jeffrey Tlumak (2013), Classical Modern Philosophy [19]

The Universal Genius: Gottfried Leibniz (quote: "known as the last universal genius") (2010) – The Philosopher’s Zone, ABC.net.
Leibniz: Universal Genius: Inventor of Calculus and Binary systems – by Jürgen Schmidhuber, Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Swedenborg (1688-1772)

● Groll, Ursula. (2011). “Swedenborg: a Universal Genius”, lecture, Swedenborg Center, Apr 1.

Haller (1708-1777)

“A poet, anatomist, physiologist, botanist, and doctor. Thoughout his life, he continued to do research and to publish in his various fields. Like Leibniz before him, he was known, even in his own time, as ‘the last universal genius’.”
— William Youngren (2003), C.P.E. Bach and the Rebirth of the Strophic Song [26]

Franklin (1706-1790)

● Morison, Sameul E. (1959). “Ben Franklin: the Universal Genius”, address upon the occasion of the publishing of Volume 1 of Labaree ed. Papers of Benjamin Franklin, at New Haven, Nov 22.
● Lemay, J. A. Leo. (date). “Benjamin Franklin: Universal Genius”, The Renaissance Man in the Eighteenth Century, Publisher.
Goethe 55-volume setGoethe writing (c.1770) s
German polymath Johann Goethe had a 5,000 book personal library, 142 volumes comprise the entirety of his literary output, on topics ranging from: poetry, botany, chemistry, zoology, anatomy, physics, mathematics, nearly every topic, astronomy aside, and he currenty ranks second behind Shakespeare according to WorldCat library holdings.

Goethe (1749-1832)

“Scholars agree that Goethe was the last universal genius: practically nothing within reach of the human mind escaped his attention.”
Walter Wadepuhl (1932), Goethe’s Interest in the New World [3]

“The middle of the eighteenth century witnessed the first powerful revolt against cultural tradition, which is marked by Rousseau. This tradition was restarted by universal genius Goethe. But it was restarted for the last time. Goethe had not been succeeded by another universal genius. He had a very clear consciousness of belonging to this tradition. He pointed to Homer, to Plato, to Aristotle, and to the Bible as its foundations. He was stepping into the shoes elders, many of whom he thought greater than himself. History was to him a sequence of great minds which commanded respect and loyalty. Viewed in the light of the present, he seems to be nearer to Dante and to Shakespeare than to us. He is the last link of that golden chain. Yet he is not too remote from us. We can still grasp that link.”
— Ernst Curtius (1949), “The Medieval Bases of Western Thought” [24]

“We often hear that Goethe was the last man in the world who was a universal genius. By this it is meant that he can be compared with a figure of the Renaissance such as Leonardo da Vinci. To me it never seems that Goethe fills happily the role of modern Leonardo. He is called the last universal genius, of course, because it is impossible to think of anyone born after his time acquiring so much knowledge in so many fields. After his time, no man could be poet, administrator and man of science.”
— Stephen Spender (1950) [10]

“Goethe is often referred to as the last polyhistorian, and is considered the last universal genius with far-reaching interests and the ability to be creative in the most diverse fields. These few giants mark the end of what could be called the Renaissance genius.”
— Walter Sorell (1970), The Duality of Vision: Genius and Versatility in the Arts [25]

“Goethe comes as close to deserving the title of a universal genius as any man who has ever lived.”
Sterling Brown (1973)

“Goethe was a universal genius such as even Greece had not known, except perhaps (who can say?) in Homer.”
— Humphry Trevelyan (1981), Goethe and the Greeks [11]

“To us, Goethe seems an end rather than a beginning: the last universal genius capable of embodying a tradition stretching from the dawn of Greek civilization to his own day; the last man in history able to take all learning for his province; the last incarnation of the humanistic ideal of harmonious individual development.”
— Gustaf Cromphout (1990), Emerson’s Modernity and the Example of Goethe [29]

“Goethe needed to assert himself as an Universalgenie (Sengle repeatedly debunks this to his mind pernicious myth) because of Weimar’s political and geographical position, because of his profession as a courtier, because of his literary and position; the only explanation not offered is that he had a genuine interest in the full range of his activities.”
— Jane Brown (1992), ““Book Review: Sengle, Friedrich, Neuses zu Goethe: Essays und Vortrage” [23]

“Having already postulated differential and integral calculus by the time he visited Spinoza at The Hague, Leibniz spent the next several years of his life developing theories of knowledge and truth that resulted in hundreds of essays and dozens of key encounters with other thinkers that in turn spurred them on to great discoveries and formulations. In his time a belief arose that he was the last universal genius, a judgment made about Goethe that the great minds of Europe were to make three generations later.”
— Larry Peer and Diane Hoeveler (1998), “A Lens for Comparative Romanticisms” [22]

“Since my method is juxtaposition, I delight in bringing together universal genius Goethe, with Sigmund Freud, Samuel Johnson, and Thomas Mann.”
— Harold Bloom (2002), Genius: A Mosaic of One-Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds

● Donat, Sebastian. (2004). Goethe: A Last Universal Genius? Munchen: Wallstein.
Humboldt reading
A photo of universal genius Alexander Humboldt (IQ=185) reading in his personal library. [18]

Humboldt (1769-1859)

“Humboldt's apartment on Oranienburger Strasse 67 in Berlin was the first think tank of the world. From here, he built a network including all great scientists of the time using pen and paper - he left more than 50,000 letters. Humboldt is the most recognized universal genius in intellectual history, the first to see the world as a whole: He discovered that all aspects of the world are intertwined.”
The Atlantic Times (2009), “The Conqueror with a Butterfly Net” [18]

Wagner (1813-1883)

● Seung, T.K. (2006). Goethe, Nietzsche, and Wagner: their Spinozan Epics of Love and Power (universal genius, pg. 280). Lexington Books.

Helmholtz (1821-1894)

“The matter of multiplicity of contributors needs no great explanation, for we are all used to this in the modern handbooks. I believe it is a common saying that Helmholtz was the last universal genius, and we are fast arriving at the point where even a single subject becomes too vast for one man. At any rate, whether or not any of my learned colleagues could write an entire chemical engineering handbook, I could not—hence the present form.”
Donald Liddell (1922) Handbook of Chemical Engineering, McGraw-Hill [2]

“Helmholtz, on the other hand, achieved preeminent success within the scientific community. He is regarded by some as the last universal genius, the last Renaissance man.”
Harold Morowitz (1981), The Wine of Life, and Other Essays on Societies, Energy, & Living Things [27]

Rizal (1861-1896)

“Recently, Thomas L.U. Szenes, in a fine analysis of the phenomenon Rizal, called him the ‘last universal genius’. Szenes said: ‘the Germans have a felicitous name for it—‘Universalgenie’, denoting an exceptional type of man who shows superior aptitude in whatever mental activity he chooses to pursue.”
— Diosdado Capino (1982). Stories on Rizal’s Character, Teachings, Examples [28]

Pioncare (1854-1915)

“The earliest work in radar polarimetry is found in the early 1950s [Sinclair, 1950]. The theory was inspired by the work of Stokes [Stokes, 1852] and of the ‘last universal genius’ Poincare [1989], both of whom laid the basis for a unified formalism for electromagnetic waves, regardless of their state of polarization.”
— Massonnet Didier and Jean-Claude Souyris (2008), Imaging with Synthetic Aperture Radar [15]

Einstein (1879-1955)

● Whitaker, Andrew. (2006). Einstein, Bohr, and the Quantum Dilemma: from Quantum Theory to Quantum Information (§: Albert Einstein: universal genius, pg. 6-). Cambridge University Press.
● Neffe, Jurgen. (2007). Einstein: a Biography (universal genius, pg. 306). Macmillan.
● Venezia, Mike. (2009). Albert Einstein: Universal Genius (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Inventors and Scientists) (abs). Childrens Press.
John Neumann (computer)
Universal genius John Neumann with the stored-program computer at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, in 1945.

Neumann (1903-1957)

“The most radically diverse thinker of the twentieth century was a mathematician: the Hungarian John von Neumann. He quite consciously cultivated this diversity, which led him apparently effortlessly from mathematical logic to quantum physics or from hydrodynamics to meteorology. At times it seems that he directed his interest towards a new field precisely because it was different than anything he had ever done before. For this reason, it would have greatly fascinated him that two completely separate fields, which eh created, have grown together in a surprisingly natural way. First, there is game theory, which he (and his Austrian friend, Oskar Morgenstern) created as a tool for economics. Second, there are the models for artificial life, which his Polish friend, Stanislav Ulam, suggested and for which von Neumann designed, using cellular automatons. This method of combining abstract biology and theoretical economics only became viable with the development of computers, which as is well known, von Neumann influenced more than anybody else. This rounds off the portrait of a universal genius comparable only to Leonardo or Leibniz.”
— Karl Sigmund (2005), “Game Theory and Artificial Life” [7]

“As soon as brilliant people invented the computer, other brilliant people made it better. One of these was John Neumann of the Institute for Advanced Study. Von Neumann was a universal genius. Certain unsolved problems of the ENIAC entranced him, and he wrote out a paper laying out what he believed should be the ‘architecture’ or logic of computers. This included a control to tell the computer what to do and when. Some have called him ‘father of the computer’.”
— James Davis (2004), The Human Story [8]

“Von Neumann, a mathematical universal genius, was interested in the construction of models of living systems, in particular with respect to their ability of self-reproduction.”
— Jeurgen Kleuver and Christina Kleuver (2011), Social Understanding [9]

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A sampling of the some of the main intellectual road blocks a "modern" universal genius needs to grapple with, in order to have a modern "universal' understanding of reality.
Idiot savant syndrome | Discussion | 1950s-present
See main: Hydraism
Chronologically, American chemical engineer and mathematician John Neumann, who met his reaction end in 1957, seems to be the "last" of the last known referred-to-as "last universal geniuses", although, to note, no actual citation of the specific term "last universal genius" + "Neumann" can be found. To requote, the following 1995 statement by German social economist Hans-Wolff Graf seems to well-situate the crux of the issue: [21]

“The trend towards the already mentioned diversified society of ‘specialists’ and the related danger of narrower way of thinking (idiot savant) necessarily leads to a growing helplessness of the individual. Related to this is a growing blind belief in science. Since Leibnitz, probably the last universal genius, we know more and more about a shrinking area of knowledge. Biology and physics, chemistry and medicine are divided already today into dozens of individual disciplines, which like a ‘hydra’, keep dividing into other individual disciplines.”

The only other person that comes to mind, following Neumann, is American IQ:225+ cited, former child prodigy (as was Neumann), youngest-ever (age 13) winner of the international Physics Olympiad, thinker Christopher Hirata, noted for his age-17 written circa 2000 human chemical thermodynamics based "Physics of Relationships" theory; presently an astrophysics professor at Ohio State University, working on gravitational lensing, relativity, dark energy, and accelerating universe problems, among other topics on modern astronomy. Hirata is also listed, according to OnlineColleges.net., among “the 10 youngest PhDs of all time” (Neumann, similarly, simultaneously completed a BS in chemical engineering and PhD in mathematics at age 23). [33] Presently, however, Hirata has disassociated himself from relationship physics, and seems to now only confine himself to physical-astronomy problems.

Also, of note, the association of Einstein as a universal genius seems to be a misnomer or over-glorified label, being that Einstein, generally speaking, give or take a few philosophical excursions, only excelled in one field, namely that of pure and applied mathematical physics (radiation thermodynamics and relativity), and notably failed entrance exams in other subjects, and also fumbled famously on the question of how to explain love in the context of modern chemistry and physics.

Last universal genius of "subjects"
See also: Last universal genius; Last person to know everything; Greatest physicist of all time
Of this universal geniuses (list below), only three: Leibniz (1646-1716), Goethe (1749-1832), and Helmholtz (1821-1894), the middle of these three in the most predominant manner, are frequently assigned the very rarefied epitaph of "last universal genius", as shown in bolded text format below, of which the mean IQ of this group is 207, which can be taken as the mean IQ for an archetype last universal genius. [17]

Of significant note, one who (since the 1980s) as been frequently called the "last universal physicist" is Enrico Fermi (1901-1954). [5] To exemplify, Emilio Segrè called Fermi “the last universal physicist in the tradition of great men of the 19th century” and “the last person who knew all of physics of his day”. [6]

Quotes
The following are related quotes:

“Universality is the distinguishing mark of genius. There is no such thing as a special genius, a genius for mathematics, or for music, or even for chess, but only a universal genius. The theory of special genius, according to which for instance, it is supposed that a musical genius should be a fool at other subjects, confuses genius with talent. There are many kinds of talent, but only one kind of genius, and that is able to choose any kind of talent and master it.”
Otto Weininger (1903), Sex and Character [34]

Grotius, Leibnitz, Goethe, three universal geniuses, the evidence of whose overpowering intellect appeared and was recognized in earliest childhood as it was later in their youth, are doubtless among the greatest minds with whom this study is concerned. A minimum childhood IQ for these cannot be less than 180. A maximum is probably close to the maximum for the human race.”
Catherine Cox (1926), Early Mental Traits of Three Hundred Geniuses (pg. 155)

References
1. Universal genius (redirect to polymath) – theFreeDictionary.com.
2. Gafurov, Bobojan. (1974). “Al-Biruni: A Universal Genius in Central Asia a Thousand Years Ago”, Courier (pgs. 4-9), Jun.
3. Wadepuhl, Walter. (1932). Goethe’s Interest in the New World (pg. 7). Publisher.
5. (a) Rafelski, Johann. (1984). Why and How in Theoretical Physics (pg. 3). University of Cape Town.
(b) Cronin, James W. (2004). Fermi Remembered (pg. 31). University of Chicago Press.
(c) Author. (2005). “The Last Universal Physicist”, Physics World, Apr. 1.
(d) Martin, Brian R. (2009). Nuclear and Particle Physics (quote: “Enrico Fermi was probably the last ‘universal physicist’.” pg. 69). Wiley.
6. Holton, James G. (1978). The Scientific Imagination (pg. 157). CUP Archive.
7. Sigmund, Karl. (2005). “Game Theory and Artificial Life”, Beyond Art: A Third Culture: A Comparative Study in Cultures, Art and Science in 20th Century Austria and Hungary (editor: Peter Weibel) (pg. 416). Springer.
8. Davis, James C. (2004). The Human Story: Our History, From the Stone Age to Today (pg. 422). HarperCollins.
9. Kleuver, Jeurgen, and Kleuver, Christina. (2011). Social Understanding: On Hermeneutics, Geometrical Models, and Artificial Intelligence (pg. 10). Springer.
10. Spender, Stephen. (1950). “Article”, The Listener (pg. 151). Vol. 44.
11. Trevelyan, Humphry. (1981). Goethe and the Greeks (pg. 199). Cambridge University Press.
12. Staff. (2003). The Houghton Mifflin Dictionary of Biography (quote: pg. 913). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
13. Cutler, Alan. (2004). The Seashell on the Mountaintop: How Nicolaus Steno Solved the Ancient Mystery and Created the Science of the Earth (pg. #). Penguin.
14. Kreeft, Peter. (2009). Socrates Meets Kant (pg. 24). Ignantius Press.
15. Didier, Massonnet, and Souyris, Jean-Claude. (2008). Imaging with Synthetic Aperture Radar (pg. 229). CRC Press.
16. Simonsuuri, Kirsti. (2010). Homer’s Original Genius: Eighteenth-Century Notions of the Early Greek Epic (1688-1798) (pg. 163). Cambridge University Press.
17. Julie E. Creech, founder Hypatia Society.
Liddell. Donald M. (1922). Handbook of Chemical Engineering, Volume 1 (quote, pg. ix). McGraw-Hill Company.
18. Staff. (2009). “The Conqueror with a Butterfly Net”, The Atlantic Times, May.
19. Tlumak, Jeffrey. (2013). Classical Modern Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction (pg. #). Roiutledge.
20. Eriksson, K. (1996). Computational Differential Equations (pg. 19). Cambridge University Press.
21. Graff, Hans-Wolff. (1995). “Conclusion: We Need a New World View” (pgs. 228-36), in The Path Toward Global Survival: A Social and Economic Study of 162 Countries (editor: Hans-Wolff Graf) (pg. 229). Gordon and Breach Publishers.
22. Peer, Larry H. and Hoeveler, Diane L. (1998). “Introduction: A Lens for Comparative Romanticisms” (pgs. 1-), in: Comparative Romanticisms: Power, Gender, Subjectivity (editors: Larry H. Peer, Diane Long Hoever) (pg. 2). Camden House.
23. Brown, Jane K. (1992). “Book Review: Sengle, Friedrich, Neuses zu Goethe: Essays und Vortrage. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1989” (universal genius, pg. 217), in: Goethe Yearbook, Boydell & Brewer.
24. Curtius, Ernst. (1949). “The Medieval Bases of Western Thought”, in: European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (pg. 589). Princeton University Press, 1991.
25. Sorell, Walter. (1970). The Duality of Vision: Genius and Versatility in the Arts (pg. 40). Thames & Hudson.
26. Youngren, William. (2003), C.P.E. Bach and the Rebirth of the Strophic Song (pg. 243). Scarecrow Press.
27. Morowitz, Harold J. (1981). The Wine of Life, and Other Essays on Societies, Energy, & Living Things (pg. 104). Bantam Books.
28. Capino, Diosdado G. (1982). Stories on Rizal’s Character, Teachings, Examples (pg. 277). Manlkapaz Pub. Co.
29. Cromphout, Gustaf. (1990). Emerson’s Modernity and the Example of Goethe (pg. 14). University of Missouri Press.
30. Gay, Peter. (1964). “Introduction”, in: Sigmund Freud: Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood (pg. xxiii). W.W. Norton & Co.
31. (a) The Mind of Leonardo: the Universal Genius at Work – Institute and Museum of the History of Science, Florence, Italy.
(b) Galluzzi, Paolo. (2006). The Mind of Leonardo: the Universal Genius at Work. Giunti.
32. Quinodoz, Jean-Michel. (2005). Reading Freud: A Chronological Exploration of Freud’s Writings (pg. 94). Taylor & Francis.
33. Staff. (2012). “The 10 Youngest PhDs of All Time”, OnlineColleges.net, Apr 02.
34. (a) Weininger, Otto. (1903). Eros and Psyche or Sex and Character: A Fundamental Investigation (Geschlecht und Charakter: Eine prinzipielle Untersuchung) (pg. 112). Vienna: Braumüller & Co, 1906.
(b) Otto Weininger – Wikiquote.

External links
Universal genius (criteria) – Hypatia Society, PhotoFoxyGirl.Tripod.com.
Goethe, Math & Universal Genius (2010) – Hmolpedia threads.

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