• Jack Cummins
    990
    I am wondering if there are any new ideas which have not been advocated by thinkers already. This is based on my reflection on the way in which I have discovered that any idea which I have, if I do some basic research, seems to have been explored.

    It is possible that part of this could be that in the age of the internet we have so much access to possible sources of information and in previous times people may have not been aware of all the range of thinking already or presently taking place. Now it is almost seen as a duty to be aware of research and any duplication of another's view, unless one could not be reasonably expected to be aware of it can be seen as plagiarism.

    In some ways a lot of thinking can be seen as a refinement of previous viewpoints and possible new juxtapositions, with some possible original labels. Of course, events of the times may also throw up new aspects of debate and some unusual dialogues between various perspectives. But as time goes on the possibilities may become even less, even within science.

    So what is the scope for original possibilities and are there questions which have not been touched upon at all. Or are we coming to a dead end in this post postmodern era.
  • Philosophim
    529
    A good question. I believe there are plenty of ideas that have not been advocated by thinkers. However, ideas which are largely independent of established knowledge and thought structures seem alien and difficult to understand by people who are used to the traditional structures.

    When I was a philosophy student, I came up with a few philosophical ideas that to this day, I have never seen duplicated. I have chatted about them with other people, and brought them to forums over the years. The number one thing I find is people keep trying to relate them to other ideas they already know.

    I have encountered the following metaphorical exchange repeatedly.

    Them: "Oh, that's like Locke."
    Me: Huh, I don't know Locke's position on this. *Reads* Ok, I can see this one point here, but I diverge greatly on this aspect.
    Them: But Locke concludes this based on his particular premises here.
    Me: As you can see with my argument, I don't have those particular premises, or go that route.
    (Optional final responses)
    Them: *Blank stare* *Pause* Well ok then. *Leaves conversation* OR
    Them: *Ignores anything in the argument that shows its not like Locke's argument, and insists its Locke's argument*
    Them: (Rare bird!) "Oh, I see. Well, continue then."

    Most people like to think from the perspective of what they already know. Anything that is too foreign or alien to this base, is most often dismissed, ignored, or derided. Very few people have the actual curiosity and intellectual drive to explore that which is alien. And that is why most of the "new ideas" have some aspect of the "old ideas". While this is convenient for the mind to grasp, it also tends to produce very similar results and thinking to the older ways. Thus instead of having leaps in thought or understanding, change is often very slow and gradual.
  • magritte
    190
    explore that which is alienPhilosophim
    And how do you go about exploring that which is alien?
  • Outlander
    867
    I am wondering if there are any new ideas which have not been advocated by thinkers already.Jack Cummins

    Key word being advocated. Probably. Though the base 'ideas' or 'concepts', essentially everything that has or can be observed, experienced, or pondered have no doubt been established and so any potential 'new idea' is likely to be cast as a simple derivative or "springboard"/"piggyback" . Remember for thousands of years people were just sitting around without TV or electronics. Sure, books, a few games, alcohol, tobacco, etc. Still, they had a lot of free time on their minds, even in labor.

    Truth, morality, reality, absolute vs. subjective, value, emotion, wisdom- all these things have been laid out long ago. More than likely, if you look hard enough, there's some variant of anything somewhere back up the line.
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    It does seem to come down to conformity and thinking about matters within a set agenda and those who think outside certain terminology are seen as the 'aliens'. Perhaps language matters and as far as this forum is concerned the best term for initiating discussion is 'qualia' being mentioned.
  • MondoR
    53
    So what is the scope for original possibilities and are there questions which have not been touched upon at all. Or are we coming to a dead end in this post postmodern era.Jack Cummins

    New ideas are everywhere, but possibly not in academia they are slow to gestate because of its inertial nature. Academia tends to follow not lead. I always marvel at new techniques that are applied to magic tricks. Original thoughts come forth from our innate ability to create something new.
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    I hope that you are right because I am wishing to touch upon and create new ideas. My belief about philosophy is that it should embrace, rather than criticize, creativity.
  • MondoR
    53
    I hope that you are right because I am wishing to touch upon and create new ideas. My belief about philosophy is that it should embrace, rather than criticize, creativity.Jack Cummins

    I am most certainly correct. The fun is in finding them or creating them.

    "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." [Proust]
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    Yes, I will try to create my 'new eyes' in order to reinvision a new way of perception, even though some may disdain me for my quest.
  • MondoR
    53
    New eyes.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.1k
    I am wondering if there are any new ideas which have not been advocated by thinkers already. This is based on my reflection on the way in which I have discovered that any idea which I have, if I do some basic research, seems to have been explored.Jack Cummins

    The more you read, the more YouTube lectures you watch, the more classes you attend, the more you talk to other people, the fewer new ideas you will come across, and the fewer new ideas you can have. So, if you want to have new ideas, ignore everybody else.

    Education is, to a large extent, immersion in the ideas that have already been thought, written down, discussed, advocated, promoted, rejected, been forgotten on the shelf, and so on. Education saves us from having to think of everything ourselves, which is a great mercy.

    Does all that mean you won't have "new ideas"? No. But... you probably won't think of any MAJOR new idea that hasn't already been turned up by somebody else. And that's OK.

    Does all that mean that intellectuals have reached a dead end? No. There are a lot of great ideas that remain to be implemented, and the means by which implementation can be carried out requires... new ideas.

    Take a currently popular topic: POVERTY. There is probably nothing new to think, say, or write about it that hasn't already been thought, said, or written about a thousand times over. Most people, when pressed, think we should not have millions (or billions) of people living in poverty. Unfortunately, we do not know how to ACTUALLY eliminate poverty, because we don't know how to reorganize society (and its wealth) in a way that doesn't make things worse. More to the point, we don't know how to get people to change the way they think.

    So, Jack, there is a topic where NEW IDEAS are very much needed.
  • Jack Cummins
    990


    I can see your point that watching television, using the internet and reading books can prevent us from developing new thoughts. I think these media determines what we think about too much, setting an agenda. So, perhaps if we spent less time engaged with these we would come up with more original ideas. I sometimes feel that talking to others about philosophy can stimulate my thinking more than just reading and writing. And of course the sages relied more on spoken discussion.

    But I do think that writing helps and not just writing on devices. I used to write morning pages which were 3 pages written first thing in the day, as advocated in The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. I used to find it often enabled me to touch base with what I was feeling and thinking. I admit that I have now got into the habit at looking at my phone first thing in the morning instead.

    I would love to come up with some really original thoughts but I am inclined to think that the best way is not just to choose a topic that no one has explored enough. The reason I say this is that I believe that the most original thoughts come from experience, of battling with issues deeply. However, in philosophy there is a need to frame ideas in a way which can make them of use to others too.

    I am not sure that others would agree that experiences is necessary for philosophy, because some would say that logic alone is enough. But I am inclined towards the view that passion for a topic of discussion is of great importance.
  • MAYAEL
    25
    I agree and can relate
    I came up with a hypothesis last yr and so far i haven't found anyone come remotely close to what I have
    And the people that I share it with give me the same responses that you receive.. Kinda frustrating.
  • Philosophim
    529

    I hear ya Mayael. Feel free to post it here again if you would like. I'll keep an eye out for it and promise to give you the good kind of response.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.1k
    I would love to come up with some really original thoughts but I am inclined to think that the best way is not just to choose a topic that no one has explored enough. The reason I say this is that I believe that the most original thoughts come from experience, of battling with issues deeply. However, in philosophy there is a need to frame ideas in a way which can make them of use to others too.Jack Cummins

    "I try to think but nothing happens." Curly of the Three Stooges said,

    My best thinking has occurred when I have been trying to solve a problem about which I was (at least somewhat) passionate. In isolation, one might think one had arrived at a genuinely NEW and IMPROVED idea, only to find that other people (also working in isolation) had come up with the same thing. Damn!!!!

    The World draws us into similar thinking. EXAMPLE: In the 1980s the gay community had to find responses to the AIDS crisis. I was an outreach worker for the local AIDS organization, and part of the education and intervention group. I tend to be a loner and do not usually do well at collaboration, so I wasn't very aware of what other people in the country were doing. At an AIDS conference in Toronto, there was a workshop for outreach workers; it turned out that we were all doing very similar things.

    Were we all doing similar things because we were unimaginative? Engaged in group think? Stealing each others ideas? No; we were doing the same things--maybe arrived at entirely independently--because the problem we were all working on--finding ways to change high-risk behaviors in high-risk settings--led us to the same approaches.

    Granted, intervening in high-risk sexual scenarios isn't philosophy--though a lot of philosophy went into our collective thinking. Like, how much disruption are we willing to impose on our brothers? How does one balance the rightness of individual choice against epidemiology? The fact is that some people are risk averse and others are risk tolerant; how much change can one expect to achieve?

    Another problem I wrestled with at the AIDS project was 'pitching information pieces at the right level of vernacular language'. This is a thorny problem because public health people usually avoid blunt vernacular language, and most of the public doesn't use public health terminology. My thinking about this was original to me but of course other people had worked on this problem and had come to similar solutions. (My 'original' solution was to write a computer program to help writers pitch their texts to a broad, low reading level. Original. Oh, slightly. Other people did the same thing, and better.).

    WHAT'S THE UPSHOT OF ALL THIS?

    Stop trying to be original. IF you have it in you, and IF you give your imagination free rein, you will come up with some ideas that are original to you. Somebody else, somewhere, some time, may have thought of the same thing. That's takes nothing away from your ideas.

    It's possible that you will come up with an idea that absolutely no one else in the world has thought of, and therefore may seem like so much of an outlier that nobody will be interested in it. Or, maybe not. But most thinking involves addition and subtraction -- I mean, we add to or carve away parts of others ideas, and arrive at new thinking.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    Even if it turns out that all of your "new" ideas have already been had by someone before, if it's someone who hasn't received enough attention for those ideas that you had already heard of them, then the ideas you (and they) came up with are still probably "new enough" that it's worthwhile for you to have thought of them and spoken about them.

    Instead of thinking in boolean terms of ideas that have been had at all or never before, it's perhaps more productive to think in terms of how well-known ideas are. If you independently come up with an idea that is not well-known, or if you just stumble across someone else's mention of a little-known idea, that's still a kind of useful "discovery" in that it strengthens the connection between that idea and realm of well-known ones.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    8.1k

    Ever notice the dual meaning of "original"? In one sense, a brand new idea, never before thought of, is said to be original. In another sense "original" is the very first, so that would mean the very first idea, from which all others proceed. The two are sort of incompatible because if there's an original in the sense of first, then all others that follow are some sort of copy of the first, and there is no original in the sense of brand new.
  • MAYAEL
    25


    For sure. Here's a video that a guy made that wanted to collaborate on some new topics for his YouTube channel and he really liked the idea but unfortunately like everybody else didn't really have anything to add to it but thinks it's interesting. If you have any questions on it feel free to ask.
    https://youtu.be/5RoMmAXEkek
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    Yes, I see what you mean about the word original, so perhaps what is needed is not just original ideas but ones which give synthesis.
  • jgill
    985
    This subject comes up among mathematicians when they are feeling a bit philosophical. A half century ago my late advisor simply stated there is nothing new in mathematics. I have found this to be debatable although many math people think it's not worth the effort. Most new and creative ideas in my profession arise, sometimes marginally, from previous notions, however they may be disguised in novel terms.

    As an example, a functional integral is a concept that might have been difficult to explain to Eudoxus, who in 370BC devised a method of exhaustion to find volumes and areas. Archimedes then adopted this concept. But not until the 17th century did the foundations of modern calculus appear in works of Fermat and others. And Newton and Leibniz might have had trouble in understanding this abstraction of integration.

    And then there are modern subjects that use normal language to describe what is being mathematically conjured, like category theory and schema. These areas of study arise from processes of abstraction and generalization.

    From a personal perspective, I've recently defined and studied something I call a hybrid path line, which bears similarity to path lines from fluid dynamics or dynamical systems, but is different. It's of no consequence, a mere plaything, but illustrates how one concept leads to another. :cool:
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    I am afraid I cannot possibly grasp your maths theories although they sound fascinating, so I will reread what you say in the morning as I am reading this in the middle of the night. Besides, I struggled with maths at school but it would have been better if we had looked at theories. I feel the same way about physics, having done reading on physics after not being able to connect with the subject at school.

    But the point you are making is that you have found new ideas after being told that there would be no new ideas which is promising. I expect the same is true in philosophy. I would love to be the discoverer but do not necessarily think I have the knowledge and aptitude for this, but I might try. However, I certainly hope that some people will venture forth into new territories.

    In fact, on another thread, @Gnomon mentioned the system of thinking he has been developing, called enformationism. So, there are people out there coming up with new ideas.
  • creativesoul
    9.5k
    I am wondering if there are any new ideas which have not been advocated by thinkers alreadyJack Cummins

    Sure there are. However, there are none that are completely new. Knowledge is accrued.
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    I agree that knowledge is accrued. Perhaps the way in which certain viewpoints come and go as the predominantly popular frames of reference is in cycles.
  • Possibility
    1.8k
    I have found that new ideas can be original, comprehensible, popular or accurate, but are rarely all of these at once. Which of these is more important to you will determine how you proceed - I think it helps to be honest with yourself about where your priorities lie.
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    Yes, I think that you make a very important point. The whole set of criteria: 'original, comprehensible, popular or accurate' are competitive ones and I don't think they could possibly be all achieved equally. I have to admit that I would rank accurate and comprehensible as the two top ones.

    I would be tempted to say that accurate should be the most important but comprehensible is important in a sense or there is a danger of 'truth' becoming too esoteric. But, there again, perhaps that is what happens when philosophy is constructed into popular means of being written for everyday understanding. Perhaps the truth gets levelled down into being too comprehensible that the essence gets lost in the process.

    And, in conceiving of ideas in this way I am not sure that 'original' is that important in the scheme of things. I am probably coming to that conclusion in my discussion thread on cultural relativism too, because I have really raised the whole question of what is truth?
  • Pantagruel
    1.2k
    So what is the scope for original possibilities and are there questions which have not been touched upon at all. Or are we coming to a dead end in this post postmodern era.Jack Cummins

    Well, every idea is both new and original since it is idiosyncratic to its context, and no two people can have precisely identical contexts. So you must be talking about a specific kind of idea, one which is in a sense "publicly formatted" I guess.
  • Jack Cummins
    990

    No, I was not thinking of one specific idea when I dreamt up this thread. I was just feeling daunted by the prospect of needing to be informed by the history of any idea that I think about.
  • Pantagruel
    1.2k
    No, I was not thinking of one specific idea when I dreamt up this thread. I was just feeling daunted by the prospect of needing to be informed by the history of any idea that I think about.Jack Cummins

    Well, according the Cassirer chapter I read this morning, all historical interpretation is a creative-imaginative project. So in that context, all ideas are constantly being recreated in new forms.....
  • Enrique
    332


    I think most of the experiences human beings are capable of are usually had in some form, so its rare for a completely unprecedented phenomenon to be noted. The exceptions are probably in quantum physics and astrophysics, where occurrences completely beyond the realm of typical perception are observed.

    But there are tons of common phenomena that we don't know how to control or generate yet, and this is where mechanistic thinking that came to full fruition post-Scientific Revolution figures in. We are still only in the initial stages of actually predicting or recreating what we observe at will, which is what theory and modern technology are in the process of allowing humans to accomplish.

    An additional area where much innovation needs to happen is in getting everyone cooperating, grasping and accepting the perspectives of fellow humans such that we have enough common knowledge and effective forums for collective action to optimize the rational efficiency of society, as well as making it possible for rare traits to get tolerant recognition and find a niche.

    Seems to me we have been doing respectably well in the arena of technology since the European Enlightenment, but with recent declines in our promotion of rationality such that technological development may stagnate in some of the world's regions, and new cognitive traits may tend to be immediately choked out by prejudices and the requirement that human beings conform to stereotypes.

    Making provision for rare traits is rational because that's where the most improbable advances usually come from.
  • Jack Cummins
    990
    When you speak of rare traits that should not be 'choked' by the need to conform to stereotypes are you pointing to the need to embrace difference? Which specific traits are you thinking about?It would be interesting if the marginalised were celebrated for their unique potential and individuality. It makes me think of the whole 'outsider art' movement. I am sure that you are thinking of something other than the arts alone, but it sounds positive.
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