TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

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.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Aug 8 2013: I was a little surprised at how literal and academic some of the answers became. Definition became the point not a thougthful answer. thanks for those taking a different road.

    I guess to answer this one would have to determine what is meant by unique and by idea. Also needing answered is if unique for the individual or for the 7 billion others living today. By idea, one would have to determine if it is only a cognition or something turned into physical reality. Such as something another can sense with their 5 senses or gain an image in another's mind. So much for the definitions. You can sort those out.

    I'm not sure where you were going with this when you first asked the question. But while the unique for the 7 billion maybe more definitive, I'm more intrigued by the individual. I think unique for an individual has meaning and application. The unique for the billions while thought provoking, has little utility. And from the conversation so far, would you say we have some unique answers, maybe even some unique ideas? I would say there were some unique ideas, but only from the point of view as individuals. From the more strict interpretation, the 7 billion, likely not so much. And therefore for me that lacks interest.

    Unique for me would be those firsts. The first time some little person touches the hot stove. That experience was only unique to that person. I'm sure there was a unique idea planted in his/her brain. Once in a while someone does venture out to something nearly unique to the 7 billion. But even then I believe they were “standing on the shoulders of” others. The other idea of sharing it may be relevant here. Others may have thought it, but only until one shares it can it be “determined” to be first or unique.

    So for me the academic questions of can something be truly unique for all history or all future doesn’t give me much to be excited about. But make it unique to me and you have a winner.
    • Aug 10 2013: What an interesting view..
      Having the 'first' feeling of the experience would be the unique moment of your life, then I would also say having constant relations with the experience would also be 'unique'.

      "individual" that you point out, I think, is one of the main factors of being unique.
      Actually it's the key point, I believe.

      But what if it goes with a group experience?
      Or continuous, boring experience?

      Does it ever lose its peculiarity?

      Might sound too obvious, but does it?

      Want to share your thoughts on this :)

      • Aug 10 2013: As far as the group experience, it may be an experience while in a group, but the individual still has the unique first experience. So the sense or feeling, or image, etc is still a personal experience and while in a group setting, still that individual's experience and maybe unique. It can only be unique once. So continous is no longer unique.

        The thought of peculiarity is a completely different line of thinking separate from unique. As for losing it's peculiarity that is situationally depend. What is the event, thought, image, experience and how does the person respond to it. Depending on which definition of peculiar you use could make a difference on how one would view the experience(s).

        For example, My girlfriend has a peculiar way of kissing which I love and makes me want more. Versus, that peculiar odor coming for the frig makes me wonder what may be growing in there. The first one may never lose it's peculiarity or sought after or enjoyable experience for me. The odor may remain that odd smell you had that given day. I hope this got my point across. I'm not sure but right now can't think of another way to explain it.

        But I think we are mixing the unique (from the TED question) with repeated events (continuous). I think unique from the TED conversation was meaning the first idea without just extension or combination of existing ideas for anyone along the continuum of time. Your comments are not referencing this uniqueness.

        As I stated earlier, the uniqueness of the TED question isn't all that interesting to me. Make it unique/new to me and you have a winner. As an extension to your thought(s) make it something I find pleasuseable and I will hope it can be continuous.

        Good luck figuring out what I'm actually trying to say. I just reread it. I'm even a bit confused.

        Either way, Smile and have a great day.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.