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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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  • Aug 6 2013: All ideas are unique. To begin with, I do agree with the assumption that everything you say or come up with has been altered by past ideas/experiences. However I do believe that even though this happens with almost every one of us, it does not alter the originality of the idea. Take for example Quentin Tarantino, who has allegedly taken various parts from a diverse spout of films and mashed them into one film (examples such as kill bill, Django, Pulp Fiction) to create his own. Is it anyone’s place to argue that because he used pieces and bits from other films, that his final work is not at all unique! It was his mind that was able to see the connection from scene to scene, from speech to speech. I doubt that there is anyone who could have seen those trends as he did that made his films so recognized worldwide. Even by broadening our spectrum I doubt that even two people out of the 7 billion have the same thinking process because of the diversity that our world represents (especially when it comes to experiences lived by the variety of individuals throughout). There are of course people that can come up with genuinely new concepts, since I wonder that it is how we began to first understand the world, using techniques such as observation (which requires no prior knowledge). In a world so advanced as the one we live in 2013, I would find it highly unlikely though. On the other hand there is also a hand set of individuals that only repeat or re-use past ideas as their own, which cause the uniqueness of that idea to be quite inexistent. This is so because even by “paraphrasing” I still believe that we humans put our own spin to things because of our personality, and the only true way to render your idea not unique is to specifically quote someone. Finally the idea that an oppositional idea is not unique is preposterous, for the simple fact that someone is not arguing against an idea merely for the fact of being displeasing and inconvenient,
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      Aug 7 2013: Thanks for the comment!

      For Tarantino, I don't many people are implying that he's entirely not unique, just not entirely unique. He had inspiration and that makes it not entirely unique, but he did create something no one else had, so he is unique to some extent.

      Ideas made out of observation, in my opinion, are not "genuinely" unique. They base their idea on something they saw. It affected their idea and may have been the sole inspiration of their idea, so then I wouldn't classify them as "genuinely" unique.

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