It’s a fact that 90% of significant discoveries and advances in human thought belong to individuals who had barely any contact at all with academia. What academics tend to do is take hold of original work and elaborate on it, but rarely do they come up with something original. Examples abound and include Einstein, Schopenhauer, Spinoza, Darwin, Mandelbrot – and so on. And so academia is not a good place to look for original thinking – and there is a very good reason.
If we look at the animal kingdom we find that intelligence, such as it exists in animals, is used to serve the will-to-live. Many of the higher mammals will lay traps and deceive to trap prey or defeat competitors in their own species. Even plants display some level of cunning, although it is certainly unconscious, in the sense we understand anyway. Venus Fly Traps will lure a fly with sticky, sweet nectar, only to trap the fly with its stickiness and then surround it with its modified leaf. So deceit and cunning are the hallmarks of nature, and specifically the employment of some level of intelligence to serve the will-to-live.
As a pure animal manifestation, human beings are also deceitful and cunning, in their efforts to survive and prosper. Those who manifest these traits most are those in whom the will-to-live dominates. However there are people who posses an intelligence that concerns itself with matters that are not purely concerned with survival. Einstein simply followed his questions concerning the nature of time and space, and paid little attention to fame, money or the usual trappings of life. Artists often pursue their passion with little regard for money or fame.
This surfeit of intelligence, that some people seem to posses, can ultimately question the very driver that brought it into existence – namely the will-to-live. Schopenhauer writes profusely about this. Most people do not possess this level of intelligence and simply get on with the business of survival – money, family, career, kids etc. But for some it becomes necessary to reflect on life, to try and understand why things are as they are. Schopenhauer claimed that for some this enquiry actually results in a negation of the will-to-live, in the sense that the usual drivers in life are seen as futile. And in fact life itself is seen as futile. This doesn’t mean they commit suicide, it just means that desires diminish, and the tyrannical will-to-live is quietened to some extent. Jesus put it quite nicely “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
And so back to most academics. In the end they are just serving the will-to-live – career and income. As a result they either have to suppress their excess intelligence, or they simply don’t have any. This is why human development will always be inspired from outside the established order.