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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 20 2013: From the viewpoint of Patents.....Original inventions are indeed rare.
    I was recently astounded to find the semi-commonality of thought-processes as related to a proposed invention.
    The sight of previous submissions from 4, 6 (or more) decades in the past was encouraging and discouraging!
    The previous alternate theses were a looking-glass into the past.
    The "IDEAS/INVENTIONS" often inferred:
    Electronic circuitry not yet produced but hypothetically possible.
    Potential assemblies of disparate materials which "would, could, should" elicit "such and such" an outcome.
    Inclusion of decades-old assemblies for which newer mechanisms have replaced older then-working designs.
    While many submissions were innovative, many were amalgamations of ideas to simply participate in another's (either) fully or partially-executed design/process.
    The "blanket-attempt" as a "Hail Mary" to gain a share of an eventual working model.
    Componentry from 3D/4D Production may deepen the problem even more.
    Education, communication and computerization have brought the billions of minds together.
    I would be surprised if more than a dribble of original ideas came out of any realm except the most obscure sciences.

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