Does original thought exist?
Firstly, a little apology- I can’t do this topic justice in a mere blog post, but it would be nice just to raise some points I’ve been contemplating recently. Again, I’d love to hear your input 🙂
My question is: Can anyone actually produce a truly original thought?
OK. To get a sense of where I’m coming from, imagine a creature. Create in your head an imaginary creature.
To exemplify my thinking, I tried my usual experiment and asked a friend. Her response was:
“I imagine a being made entirely out of water. Like an amoeba, but with a human like form, but they can change shape and morph into different forms.”
Original thought? No, not in my eyes, anyway. And I don’t mean because it’s probably already been created in an obscure Sci-fi film, but because everything she has referenced already exists.
It is almost as if we can only imagine things made up of pieces of things that already exist. So we can pick lots of different things that already are, and glue them together to come up with a hybrid creature, which is unoriginal as it is just a mixture of things that we already know of.
So: Water, amoeba, human form. I imagine if I asked for clarification on other forms, she may say, otter, dog, etc- other recognised creatures.
… is it that we cannot comprehend something unless we already recognise it as being, or is it that we only have the language skills to identify them in a limited way?
In order to explain to me what this creature looked like, my friend would have to have used words and objects we both recognise so that I could form an image in my mind.
If I had asked “What does it look like?” And she had said… “RRTTOGGGGPD” …it would have been meaningless to me as I would not be able to comprehend the image she was trying to portray, as with it being completely original, she would not have a word to identify it.
Blue, round, hands, fingers… these are all things that we can imagine because they are things we recognise because they are things we have been introduced to. But what if we don’t have any of that?
What if a man was born in complete isolation (obviously hypothetical scenario here) and asked to produce an original thought? Presumably he could not. As he would lack the language skills to portray the thought, but also, and more importantly, he would also have nothing to draw the thought from.
To probe into this subject slightly deeper; arguably then, people’s imaginations have expanded as our knowledge and understanding of the world have expanded. Does this mean imagination increases as knowledge increases?