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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: Part I:

    To paraphrase Kirby Ferguson, author and director of "Everything is a Remix," once upon a time, Luca, known as the last universal common ancestor, reproduced, and, over time, as his genes were copied and copied and copied and copied, they transformed such that every one of the billions of species of life on earth can be traced back to him.

    As troublesome as it might seem, a unique idea–meaning an idea that doesn't base itself off of established cultural, scientific, ideological, educational, and countless other areas' knowledge–is virtually impossible.

    However, I must take a minute to explain why such a thought isn't as bad as we might imagine. We are all familiar with the concept of evolution. Organisms seek to find combinations of genes that will ensure that the best-adapted forms live on. One could theorize that culture evolves the same way, and the genes, in this case, can be seen as ideas. The implication of this is that humans have been conditioned to behave in such a way that any seemingly "unique" idea is simply building off past established grounds.

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