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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: After thinking about what the word "unique" may mean, I came to the conclusion that this word was very similar to "original". Based on this, I thought that a unique idea had to come out of nowhere or at least have absolutely no relations with previous ideas or experiences. This would imply then, that it is impossible to produce anything that is unique, because we live in a certain paradigm where we have set boundaries of our own in the way we think, act, and survive. However, when rethinking about the meaning "unique" consists of, I think it is actually very different from originality. Both would be influenced by factors such as past experiences, culture, and language, but a unique idea will take us a step further. In other words, it may introduce a paradigm shift. The discovery of cells in the scientific realm was revolutionary in the sense that the idea opened up the previous paradigm and introduced a new one. In the process of this discovery, tools invented earlier were used and tested. In this way, a unique idea cannot be made out of nowhere, and there is nothing wrong with that. It can be unique as long as it is very new and inspiring, affecting many others. I believe that is what differentiates unique from original, too.

    In attempt to answer to what extent an idea can be unique, I believe all ideas can be unique if one believes it is. This is greatly based on perception, and the fact that unique can mean various things depending on the person. If the owner of the idea believes that it is a unique idea by their own definition, then it certainly is. This may seem like there is no limit, and ideas can be unique to a full extent based on perception, but that's not necessarily true either. There are limits. For example, plagiarism is not a unique idea, as it is often recognized as a negative act. But again, this is my perspective and based on my definition of unique. Even if an idea is not unique, I think there is always a possibility for an idea to be unique.

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