Sui generis

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Sui Generis is a Latin phrase meaning "in a class by itself."


  • A common stone meets with more ready patronage than a man of genius. It may be said to have its social home and proper place of refuge in some Society, expressly established for its discovery, polishing, classification, preservation, &c., and all its numerous claims to notice and learned consideration, are admitted instantly; but Genius is "sui generis," and a homeless outcast by general consent, during the full term of its natural life. Driven through the inhospitable desert of mortality, or tossed upon its bleak and stormy seas, the man of genius finds at length a haven in posterity; and there, after due course of precedence has fulfilled its progressive order, his claim also is gradually admitted: the tenacious world being quite sure that he is dead "as any stone."
    • Richard Henry Horne, Exposition of the False Medium and Barriers Excluding Men of Genius from the Public (1833), p. 1

  • Because we have to use numbers so much we tend to think of every process as if it must be like the numeral series, where every step, to all eternity, is the same kind of step as the one before. ... There are progressions in which the last step is sui generis—incommensurable with the others—and in which to go the whole way is to undo all the labour of your previous journey.

  • According to the extent to which a spirit is sui generis, the limits of what is permitted—that is, beneficial to him—become more and more narrow.

  • In the human race, also, the superior specimens, the happy cases of evolution, are the first to perish amid the fluctuations of chances. ... The short duration of beauty, of genius, of the Caesar, is sui generis: such things are not hereditary. The type is inherited, there is nothing extreme or particularly "happy" about a type. ... The higher type is an example of an incomparably greater degree of complexity—a greater sum of co-ordinated elements: but on this account disintegration becomes a thousand times more threatening. "Genius" is the sublimest machine in existence—hence it is the most fragile.

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