When someone achieves greatness in any field—such as the arts, science, politics, or business—that person’s achievements are more important than any of his or her personal faults.
When individuals attain greatness, their achievements are more important than their personal faults. While historians should not whitewash the personal foibles of great individuals, the impact that these mortals have had in their fields should tower over any personality defects. To focus on the personal weaknesses of great individuals is to miss the importance of their achievements.
The course of human history is decorated with individuals able to rise above their peers and ...view middle of the document...
This (presumed) failing is not personal in nature, but relates directly to Lincoln’s work in his field. Criticisms of this sort are entirely relevant, whereas personal criticisms are not.
Another example of a great individual dogged by criticism of his personal conduct is Albert Einstein. Einstein developed a number of the most important theories in modern physics, including an explanation of the photoelectric effect, an explanation of Brownian motion, special and general relativity, and Bose-Einstein quantum statistics. Each one of these theories would have been considered a great life’s work for a scientist; for one man to contribute this much is remarkable. However, Einstein also had life-long problems with infidelity. The fact that he cheated on his wife is in no way relevant to his accomplishments in the field of physics, and indeed most references to Einstein properly ignore it. To focus attention on the faults of his personal life is to obscure the impact he made on history.
Great individuals have personal faults, as all human beings do. Yet it is incorrect to assert that these faults detract from those individuals’ accomplishments. We are better able to appreciate the gravity of great accomplishments when we are not burying our heads in the sand, in search of personal failings.
In general, this argument is correct. Arts, sciences, politics, and business are very important to our culture and achievements made there are more important than personal faults. The positive will outweigh the negative, inevitably. Most people do not go down in textbooks, for example, for their personal mistakes. Instead for making discoveries, starting a company, or when people are elected to office. Yes, it is true that personal faults can have big effects. For example when Bill Clinton had an...