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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 II:

    Ideas, or better yet, "unique" ideas, have never had such an esteem than in this day and age. The very idea of copyrighting suggests that a "unique" idea is so valuable that one must seek legal grounds to protect the idea and claim it as their own. However, let us use the example of a person that might invent a better lightbulb. Even if this invention might turn out to be the best, most innovative, most extraordinary piece of lighting equipment that may have crossed our plane of existence, the fact is that it is hardly a unique idea. Upon trying to copyright his idea, the so-called inventor might find that the basic format for the glass of his lightbulb has been copyrighted by some Swedish molding firm, while the wiring design used in the lamp is owned by a Chinese electronic firm. While this "inventor" can be credited of being able to synthesize two different pieces to make a whole, the reality remains that his "new idea" simply builds off previously established knowledge.

    Nonetheless, for those who might argue that there are cases where an extremely elucidated individual might come up with an unique idea, I'd advise the following. That individual wasn't born in his illuminated state; having gone through some resemblance of a system of education, this individual is bound to have encountered pieces to the final puzzle that was his "unique idea." His ability to synthesize vast amounts of knowledge and information is impressive on its own, but it is undeniable that the individual only arrived to his unique idea because of previous knowledge that the human race has built throughout time.

    Thus, keeping in mind my definition of a unique idea, I would firmly state that a unique idea is as hard to come by as a unicorn, in this case a hybrid-animal that was thought up when someone synthesized the idea of a horn and a horse.

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