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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 7 2013: At this stage in life, the twenty first century, there is no such thing as an idea being unique (considering that unique is a brand new invention, from the scratch). The reason for that is the fact that our brain is always seeking for some kind of pattern. What we do are merely imitations of what was previously observed and immediately acquired. Yourself might be thinking: How were the first movements and ideas created if we acquire our knowledge from our neighbor? And I reiterate what I said in the very first sentence: nowadays, it is impossible for creating a new idea. People have experienced so much and humans have inhabited the world for such a long time that it would be difficult to think about something that someone hasn't thought before. Take this example: there are only a certain amount of stories that can be told. People say they are around 36 basic literature plot stories, which, compared with the number of stories I have already heard, is an incredibly low number. Does telling the stories from different perspectives with different characters and props make it different? Absolutely not. The core of what is being told is the "unique idea". Implementing new characteristics to it, leads the reader to believe that that story is unique, which, in fact, it isn't. This technique, of "leading" someone to believe in such things, are the famous fallacies we encounter excessively in our daily lives. Those fallacies hinder our ability of approximating ourselves from the originality of the idea, dribbling our thoughts to believe that uniqueness can come from the junction of two different ideas merged as one.

    While I read this question, another question popped into my mind: How narrow is your definition of uniqueness? I can create something unique to myself (being that I have never done before), while other can agree on a much wider range. However, that have a faith on changing the ordinary should believe on the uniqueness of their ideas.

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