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To what extent can an idea be unique?

Are all ideas just the combination of known principles or trial and error? Examples and peronal experiences are good as well as just opinions. This question could be expanded to any thought at all, not just ideas. If there is a thought that is almost entirely unique, there can't be any previous oppposite idea. What I mean is if an idea is the exact opposite of another it isn't really original. It just stated the opposite. If an entirely original idea can be made, how will it be formed?

I have some opinions currently, but I'm sure they'll change after your comments. Please ask me to expand or clarify if needed.

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      Jul 24 2013: I like the idea that an idea is considered unique if the purpose it serves is new.
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        Jul 25 2013: Yes, but to what extent!? For instance, how unique would it be of me if I used two pencils as chopsticks? On a scale of 1-10.
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      Jul 25 2013: I feel like I could take the last part of your comments on space exploration and circle back to the first part of your comment about ideas being developed form past experiences and education. In other words, space exploration is definitely always being built on previous ideas.

      How else could astronomers, cosmologists, and others deduce the things they do from satellite photographs, telescope observations, and endless mathematical formulations unless they were extending their knowledge of our earth, our solar system, our galaxy and projecting it those final frontiers?
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          Jul 25 2013: Like quantum physics compared to Newtonian physics?
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          Jul 25 2013: That was a trick question. How unique can physics really be from physics. It is, after all, all physics. One isn't separate from the other so much as they are sub categories of a larger category. Note, the progression in both historically and in the classroom. One moves from basic math into calculus (Newtonian) into Newtonian physics into quantum physics. See how it goes from math to math/Newton to Newton/physics to physics/quantum? I realize that example isn't entirely accurate, but I do think its sufficient to make my point. I realize quantum mathematics fits in there somewhere, etc. The point is that one is BUILDING upon the other.
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          Jul 25 2013: Yes, and I'm getting dizzy. Can I ask if you have read my original comment, not any of my replies, but the comment I made up at the top of the full conversation? No hurt feelings, of course, if you haven't, but I put a lot of effort into it (and was left with exactly zero characters remaining) so as to put a stop to all the circular thinking. It cuts to the core of what unique and idea mean and dispenses with all the examples. In other words, it assigns parameters to what would other be a very roundabout conversation.

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