Is this unrelated?

Yesterdays lecture on copyright issues got me thinking how people are able to protect things such as their ideas and thoughts. It reminded me of a particular English class I had in year 12 about essay  writing and forming ideas. My teacher, who was completing his Ph.D at the time, lectured us about how all the ideas in our essays essentially did not belong to us as knowledge must be derived from external sources in some way or form. The things we observed as children or articles we read as adults, inadvertently impact our ways of thinking, and thus how we may generate ideas. Even in the event that we think up something “new” or “innovative”, in his books, it was not something to be considered new or innovative. If so, does that mean the own content we produce cannot belong to us?

At the time, I both agreed and disagreed with his arguments and currently, my stance remains. Actually, to agree or disagree, one has to understand what is being said and I don’t think I fulfil that criteria. In any case, I shall “think aloud” about his philosophy.

One’s ideas may “overlap” with that of someone else’s or may be a synthesis of a variety of other people’s ideas, but even if it is purely coincidental, it cannot belong to you? Can it even be incidental in the first place? Can thoughts even “belong” to people? How about intellectual property?!

That concept of thoughts not belonging to any particular individual still boggles my mind, but I think I understand him when he says how “new” ideas are more like recycled ideas. In terms of essay writing, when you form paragraphs you have arguments, but those arguments must be supported by evidence. This effectively means that someone else has had the same or similar thoughts to you, and thus it is “recycled”.

Okay that is enough confusion for the day…

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