on never having been

In an article in the New York Times on genius, David Brooks writes:

[t]he latest research suggests a more prosaic, democratic, even puritanical view of the world. The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a divine spark. It’s not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even in realms like chess. Instead, it’s deliberate practice.
Fair enough. But what Brooks doesn't consider is that success -- and genius for that matter -- are not simply positive, static, categories. Whether you have to be puritanical in order to be successful surely depends on the kind of society in which you live. As any good dialectician knows, “there is no category, no valid concept that might not be rendered invalid at the moment when it is cut off from the concrete context to which it really belongs.”

As an aside, next time you're feeling indescribably shitty at something you've just read in the paper or seen on the tv, ask yourself whether the author or journalist has been sufficiently dialectical...

They never have been.