London: Printed for Edward and Charles Dilly in the Poultry, near the Mansion-House. MDCCLXVII. . First Edition (& 1st printing). Octavo, bound in contemporary full calf, the spine with five raised bands with gilt rules, contrasting leather title label lettered in gilt. xxiv , 296 pp. A preliminary blank and the rear free endpaper have been neatly excised; previous owner's name partially cut from top of title leaf. A contemporary in note on the title and also on the front free endpaper attributes the book to Alexander Gerard, author of "The Letters on taste (sic) (Gerard's Essays on Taste, 1780), but this is an incorrect attribution. Binding moderately scuffed and worn but still holding tight on the hinges; spine label chipped at edges but legible; a sound very good copy. Item #312739
¶ William Duff (1732 - 1815); Scottish Minister and Writer. 'An Essay on Original Genius...' is one of the earliest treatises on differential psychology.
When Duff began his book he set out to explain the peculiar character of poetic talent, but as his work progressed he found that its subject had become larger in scope. He deferred to this new plan, and in the end he found that he had written a book about the nature and components of genius. His volume is divided into two parts. Book One defines genius and explains its origins. Book Two explores degrees of genius and discusses the ways in which genius manifests itself in specific scientific and artistic disciplines.
To Duff, the principal component of genius was imagination. In this respect, he did not differentiate between intelligence and creativity. He believed that humor and wit (the speed and liveliness with which ideas come) are also important parts of the intellect, but since they are not creative, they are subordinate to imagination. According to Duff, true genius comes about when the individual has been endowed with an abundance of imagination, judgment and taste. Every person possesses these components in varying degrees, but only geniuses have the right combination of all three.