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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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  • Jul 27 2013: Just once per the patent holder, or whomever has the better legal team:) But who's keeping score anyway?Does it really matter? Universally or individually, an original and unique idea can only be formed through discovery of something that is previously unknown to everyone but the discoverer. So my answer is and only once. From that point on... it's all about ego and ownership.
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      Jul 29 2013: How'd that first person come upon the idea without any influence? The prescence of influence would make it lose it's universal originality or uniqueness.
      • Aug 16 2013: I disagree. The Greeks (and later the Romans and others) for centuries debated the principles of liberty and freedom as 'divine', yet they eagerly enslaved one another in war, despite their respect and appreciation for the philosophical concepts of Freedom and Liberty, their appreciation seemed to be limited to personal freedom and not that which might be enjoyed by others. For them it did not rise to the level of becoming a clear moral concept as it did in the 18th and 19th century in the French and American Revolutions. This is directly attributable to the influence of Christian leaders in the West. I think we all know slavery is still alive and well in many parts of the world where social customs allow it to be tolerated. While modern western culture has been clearly inspired by the early writings of Greek and Roman thinkers, they rejected the soft philosophical appreciation of the concept of freedom and embraced the moral conviction that all men should be free. In the span of human history this is a unique and powerful idea. Granted, it would be a monumental task determining who first articulated this new concept of freedom. Nonetheless, it is unique and original in the light of history in its application. I think we can agree that it is one thing to postulate an idea or belief and another to put it into practice. Whether we can pinpoint the precise moment at which this idea arrived and by whose mind and pen I think is quite irrelevant. We can clearly see its impact and so we must differentiate it from its flawed predecessor.

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