Intellectual property

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Every so often, I find ideas typed by my compatriots challenged by some readers. There are apparently many misconceptions about what are thought to be new ideas. One of the more frequent challenges centers around originality.tools

There are two problems with our notion of original ideas. The first is the problem of truth.

There are no original ideas that are useful outside of entertainment. All we have falls within the range of wild fantasy with no particular place to go or things that actually work well.

Since we aren’t in the wild fantasy or entertainment business and at our worst we simply speculate on reasonable possibility, our intellectual property as such pushes toward the ‘probably works well’ gradient.

To anyone’s knowledge, no person invented reality, physics, or metaphysics as systems themselves. The very best creators from (not inventors of) these systems among mankind are relaying to us descriptions, properties, or manifest instantiations derived therefrom as material products we may enjoy.

All of our non-fantasy ideas are drawn from what was already in place prior to us all.

Although the properties of an atom may vary within a range all the way up to electrons blown off the shell and eventually fragmented nucleus, the essential components of an atom are consistent: protons, neutrons and electrons summoned into orbit.

Atoms are instances of structures that actually work using borrowed energy to come into existence. Original ideas are similar in that they describe what can or does already take place. A thinking person is a span of borrowed energy. Some thinking people bring that which works to the forefront among our concepts for a while.

As time has gone on, our simpler concepts have been recombined with others into more complex, often hybridized concepts. Fire. Bonfire. Furnace. Engine.

Notice engines are no longer simply fire or even furnace as such and there are many varieties of engine designs that work. Nor are engines just a hunk of rocky iron ore, or only an ignition system or fuel supply; things also in use in less complex form before our latest engines existed.

Retracing our steps back along the ignition system path, we will find wiring which is copper and insulation material, a power supply, an electrode and so forth, all simpler, less complex instantiations of both material and design idea.

The same goes for fuel supply where we revisit metallurgy and metalworking for piping or tubing, pumps with electric motor wiring, valves, and pressure.

It is fair to state that someone or many others have already described or created fire, metallurgy, fan blades, and tubing. But it does not invalidate the ‘originality’ of the creator of the jet turbine. Nor does the creator’s state of being original or not being original have any bearing on his credibility.

This is the truth of all seemingly original ideas. All any of us can possibly do is recombine or reiterate what was already there to begin with. This brings us immediately to the second problem with our notion of original ideas, beyond our nothing is original revelation.

What is important is not the novelty of any idea, which is as I have shown, a simpleton’s challenge for measuring its value. Instead, for us, an idea increases in value the further away from fantasy and toward the works well when tested gradient it pushes.

3 Comments

  1. Lydia says:

    I always suspected that mankind was only allowed to “discove”r how things worked, and discover a way to invent. It was always there, waiting to be explored, discovered, invented, used. Since there is nothing new under the sun, it is possible that many things were invented even before the flood: who knows?

    1. Raul Singh says:

      You’re quite right. It was here before us and when we “invent” something, we are discovering new ways to use what exists outside of us. The potential and the power has always existed, and is not our creation. Fossil fuels power engines because of the properties of fossil fuels, and those were always there until we got “smart” enough to discover them.

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