One-Liner Wednesday — Freedom of Speech

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought, which they seldom use.”

Søren Kierkegaard, Danish theologian, philosopher, poet, and social critic, who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher

Could this man, who died in 1855, have been prescient enough to have foreseen Twitter?

Written for Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

I’m Losing My Mind

1C30BF85-CD42-44CF-ACBA-EFB9F666FB4BAt least that’s what my wife keeps telling me. For instance, last night I asked her a question. She got a strange look on her face and said, “You just asked me that.”

“I did? Did you answer me?”

“Yes, I did.”

“What did you say?”

“I already answered your question,” she said. “Either you didn’t listen when I answered, in which case why did you ask if you had no interest in my answer, or, if you can’t even remember asking me, you probably won’t be able to remember the answer even if I say it again.”

Hmm, she has a point. And then there was the other day when we were walking our dog and I said something to her and she said, “You just said that.”

“Really?” I said. “I thought I just thought it, but didn’t actually say it.” It seems that I often can’t recall if I actually said something or I only just thought it.

And then there are the times that my wife and I might be sitting and watching TV and she’ll ask me to get something for her, say a glass of water. I’ll walk into the kitchen, feed the cat, and then walk back to where my wife is sitting and sit down. She’ll look at me and ask, “Where’s my water?”

“Oh, right,” I say and get up to get her a glass.1450B989-2045-491C-895C-18E1347DE23B“Never mind,” she says. “I’ll get up and get it myself.”

And then she adds, “You really are losing your mind.”

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.”