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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: I believe there are actually two sides to this question. If we take a closer look and think deep about it, all ideas come from preexisting ones. They can be seen as answers to things that have already been stated. Think about it, when someone has an idea, it either contradicts a certain principle, or it expands it. We have ideas based on things that have already been put out there, they are ideas based on our opinions. This is the only point where it can get unique. The basis of ideas are our beliefs and opinions, and this is something that no one can take away from us. Therefore, considering this aspect, it is indeed unique. But I have to agree with what has already been said by a few people, we must consider the definition of unique before analyzing it. The correct definition according to dictionary.com is that unique means “existing as the only one or the sole example, having no like or equal.” However, in the world we live in today, it is very hard to have such unique ideas, in the end they are just combinations of various different things. I like the example given about technology because even though there are new advances, they are innovations that are based on previous ones. Then I think creativity comes into this as well, because creativity is unique, and being creative can lead to certain advances. So ideas itself are not unique, but rather the small aspects that make up ideas.

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