GRE Issue Essay 149

“Truly profound thinkers and highly creative artists are always out of step with their time and their society.”

It has been seen that in the past, great thinkers and artists have generally been out of step with their time and their society, but it cannot be taken as rule. In other words, it is not necessary that great thinkers and artists have always been out of step with the people who have lived in their times. This is because there are examples of artists who were recognized and admired in their times by their societies and the number of such thinkers and artists is now on the increase.

There are many thinkers and artists who remained obscure for as long as they lived. Their works and achievements were given due credit long after they died. This is because the coming generations were able to understand the real meaning and impact of the contributions made by these thinkers in their time. History is replete with examples of scientists and thinkers who had challenged the notion that the earth is at the center of the universe. They were misinterpreted by the societies of those times and some of them were rebuked for voicing their opinions. However, the coming generations recognized their contributions as it was later proved that the earth revolves around the sun.

The reason behind the rejection of the ideologies of thinkers and artists in their times could be that art and philosophy need time to be understood by people. If in the past, an individual came up with a new idea, the society did not immediately agree to whatever he envisaged or foresaw. He had to stand the test of time before the people began to understand the truth behind his philosophy or his pieces of art. The erstwhile societies were rigid and they found it difficult to accept the views of someone else who chose to defy the norms that were being followed or the ideology that was being believed. It may be true to a small extent even today. For instance, today there are a number of people who claim to have seen aliens and unidentified flying objects or who have formulated theories of camouflaged aliens living amongst humans. There are numerous movies that have been based on the same concept. Contemporary society may scoff at them or probably treat their theories with complete disbelief. However, if in the future, it is proved that aliens actually exist or they are indeed living amongst humans in a different form, then these very people will be elevated to the status of great thinkers who had predicted the existence of aliens and had created movies based on them.

Thinkers like scientists who were able to support their ideologies with scientific evidence have been appreciated in their lifetimes by their societies as the people believed what they had brought forth. For instance, theories of scientists like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were accepted by the society in their times and they received due recognition for their work in their lifetimes. Gautam Buddha was revered in his lifetime by thousands of people and long after he has gone, the religion of Buddhism is followed all across the world by millions of people. The principles of Gautam Buddha were accepted both in his lifetime and in the era after his death.

Contemporary society is more open to new ideas as compared to the societies in the past. People are given a platform to project their opinions and the society is quite receptive when it comes to giving recognition to some piece of art. There are numerous thinkers in modern society who have a large number of supporters who believe in the ideology being propagated by the thinker. There are many cults that have come up which follow an ideology of their own and they have been able to garner enough support from the society as well.

Therefore, in the modern world, there is a greater chance of thinkers and artists getting recognition as compared to the erstwhile societies which were more orthodox. Therefore, it can be said that some great thinkers and artists may have been out of step with their times, but when seen in the larger perspective, most of these artists and thinkers have got their due during their lifetimes and will continue to do so in the future.