Do you have any ideas?

I believe that the average person has six original ideas in their lifetime.  By “original idea”, I mean a new view of how the world is or could be.  “Why don’t we go to Hawaii this summer?” or “”Let’s paint the hall fuchsia” don’t count; they’re statements about preferences.

Now six is just a number pulled out of thin air; for some people, it may be less, and for creative people, it may be way more.  I don’t know the exact number; the point is to realise that nearly everything we think comes from someone else.  Here’s the test: name 6 ideas you’ve had that clearly owe nothing to outside influence.  They don’t have to be original in the sense that no one else has ever thought them, only that you discovered them independently.

Some ideas of mine that qualify:

  • This idea itself
  • The major characteristic of conservatism is fear, and the primary fear is breaches in the barriers between self and other
  • Time does not exist as popularly imagined; instead, time is change
  • The ideal profile for a guitar fingerboard

The ultimate point of this is to realise that nearly all your ideas come from elsewhere.  Most of your speech is just parroting the ideas of other people.

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