Exploring Original Thought

Original thoughtIt recently occurred to me that I have never had an original thought in my entire life. Neither have you, most likely.

There is an actual theory about this. It’s referred to as the Original Thought Theory. I don’t know who originally thought of the Original Thought Theory, but based upon the theory itself, it wasn’t an original thought.

The Original Thought Theory suggests that anything anyone can ever think of has already been thought of by someone else. Do you believe that?

Even the Bible doesn’t buy the notion of original thought. In Ecclesiastes 1:9, it reads:

That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there’s nothing new under the sun.

So what do we mean by “original thought?” First, let’s explore the word “original.” Various online dictionaries define the word as new, fresh, inventive, novel. It’s something created, undertaken, or presented for the first time.

It’s much easier to use the concept of “original” in terms of physical things, especially inventions. The iPhone was the original smartphone (or, arguably, the BlackBerry was). How about the IBM PC? Was that the original, mass-market personal computer? Johannes Gutenberg invented the original mechanical printing press. The Ford Model T was the original mass-produced automobile.

But the concept of “original” when it comes to thought is a different proposition. The word “thought” is defined as “the product of mental activity.” So an original thought is something new, fresh, and inventive that is the product of mental activity.

How can you know if a thought you or someone else had was uniquely new, fresh, or novel, as well as one that was thought for the first time…ever?

Apple on Newtons HeadWas Sir Isaac Newton, who wrote the Law of Universal Gravitation, the first to observe and describe the concept of gravity? Newton may have proved the existence of gravity using mathematics, but did it occur to no other human being before Newton that what goes up must come down? I can’t prove that it did, but I think it’s unlikely that it did not.

Think about the history of humanity on this planet. Think about the billions and billions of thoughts that human beings have had throughout history. What is the likelihood that you or I will actually have a truly original thought, a thought no other human being in the history of recorded time has ever thought?

Thoughts may be unique to a person, but they are formulated by a wealth of other thoughts, data, emotions, and perspectives. If someone presents a different perspective and your response is, “I never thought of it that way,” is your revelation an original thought or just a new take on an existing idea? Is formulating a new opinion about something the same as having an original thought?

Even if I discovered a new and different way of thinking about something, it may be new and different for me, but can I know for sure that no one else has also thought about that same thing the same way I have? Of course I can’t.

So, do I feel bad that I have never had an original thought and never will? No, not at all. I am happy that I possess the wherewithal to think rational thoughts, weigh the evidence, internalize other perspectives, and draw my own conclusions.

And then, in my blog, I post about such conclusions, observations, and perspectives in what I hope is a reasonably original manner. Original to me, anyway.


Written for today’s one-word prompt, “explore.”

11 thoughts on “Exploring Original Thought

    • Fandango April 3, 2018 / 11:09 am

      I like that distinction. Very good.

      Like

    • Becoming Malaika April 3, 2018 / 7:56 pm

      How fortuitous. I was just listening to a podcast earlier this morning talking about this (before I read your blog). It would be interesting to understand independent thoughts vs original thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. newepicauthor April 3, 2018 / 11:25 am

    You went very deep on this post and I love it. When Solomon wrote that statement, he was emphasizing the cyclic nature of life and the emptiness that humans experience being in the rat race. Newton’s contribution to gravity was extending it beyond our Earth. You write very original posts, so you must have original thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango April 3, 2018 / 11:36 am

      Yes, deeper than I normally do and it’s a longer post than I normally write. Glad you liked it. As to original thoughts, I doubt it. But perhaps unique takes on subjects others have covered or at least thought about.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sight11 April 4, 2018 / 1:16 am

    If someone thinks that they are lacking original thoughts they should think about themselves. Since every DNA is unique and original (if they ever clone), you are thinking originally. It also means that others can think about you, but not in a same way that you think about yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael April 4, 2018 / 1:40 pm

    I think everything we do think is influenced by what we have read or seen or heard. What we do is put our slant on it, we shape the thoughts of others into cogent thoughts of our own. If we do produce an original thought it may come without us actually knowing what we’ve produced. Consider the artist, he produces a work we think is wonderful, some might say unique, but when you ask him/her about it they will reveal the influences on their artistic creativity. For me its about producing a sentence that you might think is coherent…well I’m hoping so.

    Liked by 1 person

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