Debate and Discussion

Is anything truly original?
TheMidge28 at 10:37AM, Oct. 13, 2008
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Oscar Wilde said, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

Voltaire wrote, “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed from one another. The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the prope.”

Bill Waterson creator of Calvin and Hobbes stated, “I used to make original snowmen, but it was time consuming, hard work. So I said, heck, this is crazy! Now I crank out crude imitations of what's already popular! It takes no time or thought, and most people don't care about the difference, anyway! And what good is originality if you can't crank it out?”

“Originality is merely an illusion.” supposedly stated by M.C. Escher…

As artists in the webcomic community we all strive for originality or that's what I assume we strive for. But what of the concept of originality? Can anyone truly be original whether in art, literature or other arenas of expression or intellectual pursuit?

At a base level I think it is impossible for someone to be original. We all come from a shared paradigm with its own history and experiences. But what do you all think? Are you original? What makes your work original? And if you think your are not original and you pursue creative endeavors, then why create at all?

And if you don't see the irony of this post with its quotes then…
forget about it!
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:25PM
isukun at 11:07AM, Oct. 13, 2008
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Originality is just rearranging established ideas in a way people have not seen before. Nothing will ever be 100% fully original, but nothing really needs to be. Everything builds on what came before it. In the artistic community, that works to our advantage. A story with no basis in past writings or the world we live in is incomprehensible and boring. If we can't make a connection to something we recognize, we have a tendency to not care.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
Ironscarfs Ghost at 1:23PM, Oct. 13, 2008
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If you want to reach for the stars, you have to stand on the shoulders of giants, as somebody probably said. Every great artist, innovator or thinker in any field can be directly traceable through the lineage of ideas that came before them, and the more ideas and viewpoints you absorb, the greater your chance of reaching those stars.

It's down to how you define originality really. If, as some might suggest, it means free of all identifiable traces of influence, then no, it doesn't exist. If on the other hand, it means bringing a different viewpoint or novel perspective to the table, then yes, it does. And in the arts or popular media, there's also the notion of taking something old and updating it; dressing it up with contemporary concerns or ideas. Stars Wars looked pretty original at the time, but it was a combination of old ideas in a shiny new wrapper.

To me, an original isn't someone who reinvents the universe on a molecular level. It's someone who takes what we already know and tilts it a little, allowing us to see what we'd failed to notice or taken for granted. These rare people are the ‘originals’ who shape the way we look at the human condition and the world around us. I know that sounds a bit portentious, but hey, I'm a ghost. :)
Er……..boo!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:03PM
Mushroomcomix at 1:53PM, Oct. 13, 2008
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Ironscarfs Ghost
If you want to reach for the stars, you have to stand on the shoulders of giants, as somebody probably said. Every great artist, innovator or thinker in any field can be directly traceable through the lineage of ideas that came before them, and the more ideas and viewpoints you absorb, the greater your chance of reaching those stars.

It's down to how you define originality really. If, as some might suggest, it means free of all identifiable traces of influence, then no, it doesn't exist. If on the other hand, it means bringing a different viewpoint or novel perspective to the table, then yes, it does. And in the arts or popular media, there's also the notion of taking something old and updating it; dressing it up with contemporary concerns or ideas. Stars Wars looked pretty original at the time, but it was a combination of old ideas in a shiny new wrapper.

To me, an original isn't someone who reinvents the universe on a molecular level. It's someone who takes what we already know and tilts it a little, allowing us to see what we'd failed to notice or taken for granted. These rare people are the ‘originals’ who shape the way we look at the human condition and the world around us. I know that sounds a bit portentious, but hey, I'm a ghost. :)

I agree with Scarf you don't have to reinvent the whole universe to be original, you just have to build off of an idea and make it your own or even just improve it. It would be impossible for someone to just reinvent the whole universe to make something completely new and original because it has all been done already…its like way back in the day when The Simpsons was accusing South Park of stealing their ideas so they did that whole “Simpsons did it” episode with Professor Chaos. If you think of something new more then likely someone else thought of it first. These days almost everything can be traced back to something retro, and stuff that is retro can be traced back to something even older.

I like to think my work is fairly original, but hey it's just meant to be funny and make you think if you can find the subtle hints in there.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:08PM
KingRidley at 2:33PM, Oct. 13, 2008
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I've got to say that occasionally someone comes around and thinks of something really original, but that's pretty rare. Most people function by taking from each other, but there's nothing wrong with that. We all get to use the same pieces of the puzzle. All you can really hope for is the ability to arrange the pieces into something that resembles something new.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
StaceyMontgomery at 3:27PM, Oct. 13, 2008
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My really original work has never been popular.

The more familiar my work is, the more people seem to like it.

“Original” can also just mean “weird” or “foreign.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
mlai at 5:09PM, Oct. 13, 2008
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Originality is overrated. And a webcomic that claims to be original helps me to meet my “good laugh” quota for the day.

Someone point me to some “original” webcomics. Very few. Very far.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
TheMidge28 at 6:40AM, Oct. 14, 2008
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so is the concensus is that artists do not pursue originality?
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:25PM
lothar at 7:02AM, Oct. 14, 2008
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TheMidge28
so is the concensus is that artists do not pursue originality?

what's an artist ?
no seriously ,most of the time i wouldn't be caught dead calling myself an artist ., unless i'm realy drunk or something . i imagine artists to be those crazy dudes that make those things that everybody is like “WTF???” and everybody usually hates those peopel cuz they'r weird and incomaptible !

making comics online feels a lot more like arts and crafts to me , it's just arranging lines and colors and stuff to look cool or trippy so that you can be sort of popular with people you'll prolly never meet in reallife .

im trying to think of something that is original ..
what about gun powder ? before that there was never explosions on the planet Earth , except for volcanoes … dammmn ! nothing is original !!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
KingRidley at 7:45AM, Oct. 14, 2008
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lothar
what's an artist ?
I think an artist is anyone who creates art. And i think art is anything that a human creates just for the sake of creating, and as long as it makes them happy or serves some purpose for them then it is art.

For example: I have two of the newest Halo 3 action figures on my desk. I have posed one of them in a ‘dead’ pose, and the other in a ‘crouch’ pose. I then set the ‘crouch’ on top of the ‘dead’ and I get a simple sculpture which I jokingly call “12 years old.” They aren't materials that I made, but I have still reconfigured them into a form that I find amusing, i.e. tea-bagging.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
lothar at 9:11AM, Oct. 14, 2008
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KingRidley
I think an artist is anyone who creates art. And i think art is anything that a human creates just for the sake of creating, and as long as it makes them happy or serves some purpose for them then it is art.

For example: I have two of the newest Halo 3 action figures on my desk. I have posed one of them in a ‘dead’ pose, and the other in a ‘crouch’ pose. I then set the ‘crouch’ on top of the ‘dead’ and I get a simple sculpture which I jokingly call “12 years old.” They aren't materials that I made, but I have still reconfigured them into a form that I find amusing, i.e. tea-bagging.

i disagree , by that deffinition i could kick a hole in the wall or spit on the sidewalk and call it “art” as long as it makes me happy

so , if i were to flip you off would that also be a sculpture ? i didn't create my own hand , but i am reconfiguring it in a way that i find amusing
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
TheMidge28 at 9:21AM, Oct. 14, 2008
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lothar
i disagree , by that deffinition i could kick a hole in the wall or spit on the sidewalk and call it “art” as long as it makes me happy

so , if i were to flip you off would that also be a sculpture ? i didn't create my own hand , but i am reconfiguring it in a way that i find amusing

possibly could be considered “performance art”… especially if you did it in slow motion to the music of Wagner's “Flight of The Valkeryies”.

But art comes in all forms and different tastes.
And to many people webcomics are considered art.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:25PM
Hawk at 10:53AM, Oct. 14, 2008
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Yeah, that's the weird thing about art. The creator or performer of something pretty much just has to say it's “art”, and that makes it so. It's art, and nobody can say otherwise.

However, while you can't debate whether or not something is art, you can/i] debate whether or not it's good art. You can debate that until the cows come home.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM
Faliat at 11:44AM, Oct. 14, 2008
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I think there is the capability to create original ideas in people's heads. It's jus tthat those who do are often ignored. Creators often pander to the needs of either themselves of the general public when creating works. it's the only way people will be remotely interested.

However, if you look back in humanity's history, back when we were all dressing in animal skins and hunting mammoth, we decided to do a little bit of creative expression on cave walls. But believe it or not, we weren't there first. Homo sapiens weren't the only animals in the homo genus in the world back then. And we stole a lot of things from the discoveries of the others.

Now, despite the fact they were seperate species, they still homehow thought "I'm getting that twig, and this pool of giant sloth blood, and I'm going to make marks on this stone wall so it will look nice. And when you really look at it, how could they gain influence to do such a thing?

Call that jumped up metal rod a knife?
Watch mine go straight through a kevlar table, and if it dunt do the same to a certain gaixan's skull in my immediate vicinity after, I GET A F*****G REFUND! BUKKO, AH?!

- Rekkiy (NerveWire)
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PIT_FACE at 3:38PM, Oct. 14, 2008
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i guess if you're enough of a sniveler, you can connect any creation to another if you try hard enough, no matter how original you think it is.
a lot of the things i make, are to me, original. i make my story art and characters how i see fit and how they make sense to me. they all came from a spot in MY mind.

i probably sound a little uptight about the question. that's because there's 2 things i've never liked about it. to a lot of people, it subconsciously suggests that if something isnt original, it's not worth doing. which is wrong. even if,say, i'm wrong, and there is absolutly NO way to be original anymore, you can still morph things, mutat them, evolve them. advance it or tear it down.

then secondly, how far do you want to go to say something isnt original anymore. it's a fundamental question to even answering THIS question. but that's why i used the word sniveler earlier. i picture a lot of people that would stand there and pic something apart to say it's unoriginal when there are MUCH better things you could be doing with it,seem pretty worthless to me. i'm also not saying people dont flat out copy things…shit, i went a little deeper into this then i was planning. i was just gonna say “yeah, but so what.” but this leaves me feeling a little more releived,haha.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:44PM
bravo1102 at 8:11PM, Oct. 14, 2008
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Good artists borrow, great artists steal.

Take what you see and make it your own. Your imagination effectively plagarizes your experiences to create everything you do. It's how you impart your spin on it that matters.

You know how annoying it is to start a trend or coin a phrase then have it come back to you some time later and you're accused of copying it when you're the one that invented it! Original ideas aren't necessarily all they're cracked up to be. :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
KingRidley at 10:59AM, Oct. 15, 2008
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lothar
i disagree , by that deffinition i could kick a hole in the wall or spit on the sidewalk and call it “art” as long as it makes me happy

so , if i were to flip you off would that also be a sculpture ? i didn't create my own hand , but i am reconfiguring it in a way that i find amusing
Technically that would be art. It would also be vandalism, but you could argue that it would be art. Of course, it would be the kind of art that no one appreciates, and you wouldn't get alot of sympathy for it.


No, actually. If you sculpted your hand or made a cast model of it or recreated it in any way then it would be. But what you're proposing already has another name. It's called a “gesture.”

Of course you could (as you already have) argue that my “sculpture” is not really art because it's just two toys in a childish pose. But I say it has more permanence than flipping me the bird, and it isn't part of my body. So to me, it's art. Very simple art.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
highspeedcomics at 10:22AM, Oct. 16, 2008
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KingRidley
Technically that would be art. It would also be vandalism, but you could argue that it would be art.
Not if it was his own wall. :) And I'm pretty sure spitting isn't vandalism. ;)

Anyway, like others have said, it's difficult to define “original”; regardless, though, as long as it entertains me, it's originality - however one might define it - doesn't matter quite as much.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:48PM
Aurora Borealis at 12:31PM, Oct. 16, 2008
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Originality…

Ok, imagine you created something absolutely original. That means it has no references to anything that was created before, perhaps doesn't even use a human language and was made with tools that you designed specifically for this opportunity.

I can pretty much guarantee that no one would get it. Simply, a work like that would be beyond any point of reference for anyone, it would seem absolutely alien. No one could identify with it.

On the other hand, you could call something “original” when it would simply mix existing elements in a new fashion. Same as when you create a new original meal recipee, you don't start with genetically modifying plants and animals to create never before seen ingredients.

Let's take Watchmen as an example. It is considered to be very original, first superhero work to approach the genre in this fashion. But all it did was take the superhero base and apply elements that were taken from other genres/media. There you go, original work.

On the other hand you had painters and musicians who were ahead of their times, thus being forced into obscurity and perhaps even poverty as no one got their works aside maybe a small group of followers.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:08AM
KingRidley at 7:14PM, Oct. 16, 2008
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Aurora Borealis
Ok, imagine you created something absolutely original. That means it has no references to anything that was created before, perhaps doesn't even use a human language and was made with tools that you designed specifically for this opportunity.

I can pretty much guarantee that no one would get it. Simply, a work like that would be beyond any point of reference for anyone, it would seem absolutely alien. No one could identify with it.
This is a really good point. If something is too original or out there, then people won't be able to relate to it. And in alot of cases if people can't relate to art in some way, then they won't like it. Excluding ‘modern’ or abstract art.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
isukun at 9:03PM, Oct. 16, 2008
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Even with abstract art, people tend to appreciate it only when they can make some sort of association with some concept, idea, or real world equivalent. Usually it is an emotional reaction, some visual cue that works on a fundamental level, even though it does not seem to represent any particular physical figure or object, or the concept that the piece represents. When people can't comprehend a piece, that's when you usually get the haters who claim their three-year-old could do better work.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
DAJB at 1:03AM, Oct. 17, 2008
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TheMidge28
so is the concensus is that artists do not pursue originality?
I don't think so. I think the consensus is that artists do pursue originality but in a relative, rather than an absolute, sense (since - in the sense of having no forerunners at all - nothing can be truly “original” ).

Every major step taken by artists either builds on and/or very consciously rebels against what has gone before. But it can still be called original if the end result is in some way different to the way it has been and is being done by everyone else.

Applying a standard of “absolute originality”, you would have to argue that Picasso's invention of Cubism wasn't “original” because it used the established techniques of traditional painting and borrowed images from both photography and African art. In a relative sense, however, Cubism is regarded as stunningly original because those elements were combined in a way that no one had seen before.

Many of Shakespeare's plays were not original stories but, as was common in Classical literature, retellings of older tales. Does that mean he wasn't being original? Of course not. He wrote in a way that no one else could possibly hope to imitate (unless you choose to believe the various conspiracy theories about Marlowe and others!)

The great Gothic cathedrals were masterpieces of original architecture but they could never have been built without all the knowledge and experience of stonemasonry developed over the preceding centuries.

Being “absolutely” original may be impossible, but “pursuing” originality by doing something even a little bit different is pretty much part of an artist's job description!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
Ironscarfs Ghost at 3:49AM, Oct. 17, 2008
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DAJB
Many of Shakespeare's plays were not original stories but, as was common in Classical literature, retellings of older tales. Does that mean he wasn't being original? Of course not. He wrote in a way that no one else could possibly hope to imitate (unless you choose to believe the various conspiracy theories about Marlowe and others!)

It's not a conspiracy - it was Marlowe! Shakespeare was the conspiracy and now he's taken over the world!

Er, ahem, yes….I think your thesis is is better summation of what we're trying to do, whether we chose to label it ‘originality’ or not. It comes down to the interpration of the term, which is not an exact science.
Er……..boo!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:03PM
Abt_Nihil at 2:38AM, Oct. 22, 2008
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DAJB
I think the consensus is that artists do pursue originality but in a relative, rather than an absolute, sense (since - in the sense of having no forerunners at all - nothing can be truly “original” ).

Although DAJB's theory lives up to our intuitions, I think it yields absurd results: We would lie most of the time when using the term “originality”. You could always accuse someone claiming his or her work to be original of lying (in case they do not correct themselves and say “my work is original in a relative sense” ). I think it's understood that the concept “originality” does aim at an absolute, otherwise Midge's starting point would be quite invalid. It's just that what originality refers to is highly dependable on context.

Example:
Someone asks what you've got in your fist behind your back, and you reply (truthfully) “nothing”. Now this someone can go and start analyzing the concept “nothing” in a sense excluding every physical object, even air and molecules. In that sense you lied. Applying DAJB's theory, you would explain that “nothing” is relative: of course there is something in your fist, if air and molecules count as something. And then you would have to admit that you could never really have nothing in your fist (just relatively).
But to me this seems quite wrong. Of course he had nothing in his fist, in a very absolute sense. It's just that “nothing” is context-sensitive: If you don't have a normal object of moderate size in your fist, then the statement “I've got nothing in my fist” is absolutely true.

And that's how it is with originality.

Am I splitting hairs here? Is my holding that originality is context-sensitive just another way of saying that artists pursue originality in a relative, not an absolute sense, as DAJB wrote?

Well, the difference is: According to DAJB, artists never pursue originality in an absolute sense. According to me, they do. According to DAJB, you would never have “nothing” in your fist. According to me, of course you would.

—————————

And a more direct and less hair-splitting reply to Midge's first post:

The reasoning
(1) “Concept X is absolute”
(2) “Human beings have no way of reaching absolute states, or of knowing absolute things”
(3) “Thus X must be an illusion”
is very classical. Very, very classical.

You should have quoted a more modern view, like Wittgenstein's: Let's see how concepts are actually used in practice. It's no use thinking of concepts as absolute, if we do actually use them. Because you could just reason the other way around:

(1) “Concept X is in use”
(2) “There is no way of attaining an absolute state, or knowledge of absolute things” (What I take to be today's common-sense scientific view - of course you could oppose this, as many religious people do every day.)
(3) “The use of any concept cannot presuppose attaining an absolute state, or knowledge of absolute things”
(4) “Thus the use of concept X does not presuppose attaining an absolute state, or knowledge of absolute things”

(And that's why DAJB's view is intuitively right, because it explains how the latter reasoning can be true. But in doing so, it sacrifices absolutes altogether. My point is that it makes perfect sense to refer to absolutes, but of course we don't have to have direct experience with absolutes in order to being able to refer to them.)
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
NickGuy at 7:30AM, Oct. 22, 2008
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“Art who?”-Art School Confidential

God, I love art discussion threads. Everything is art. The chair im sitting in is art. someone had to draw the design for it and someone made it. the guy who had two halo figures teabagging each other made art. The guy who hung up orange scarves in central park made art. graffitti is art.

now, is it good art? is it shock value art? does it have any relevance, anything to say? Is there a reason we should be looking at it? THOSE are the questions to ask. whether or not something is art is irrelevant. It simply IS. too many times i hear people go “oh that sucks. thats not art.” as if the fact that they dont enjoy it means it isnt art. If i make a steak sandwich and you dont like the way it tastes, it doesnt all of a sudden make that sandwich NOT a steak sandwich.


anyway…

I cant remember where i read it, but i read this essay that argued that all story types boil down to just two things….love, and revenge stories. so nothing can ever be original.

“Kung Fu Komix IS…hardcore martial art action all the way. 8/10” -Harkovast
“Kung Fu Komix is that rare comic that is made with heart and love of the medium, and it delivers” -Zenstrive
“Kung Fu Komix is…so awesome” -threeeyeswurm
“Kung Fu Komix is..told with all the stupid exuberance of the genre it parodies” -The Real Macabre
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:15PM
ozoneocean at 9:39AM, Oct. 22, 2008
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Abt_Nihil
DAJB
I think the consensus is that artists do pursue originality but in a relative, rather than an absolute, sense (since - in the sense of having no forerunners at all - nothing can be truly “original” ).
Although DAJB's theory lives up to our intuitions
That's the thing man. Absolutes are mostly nonsense. Most existence is relative. Things tend to be defined by their context, not by what they are or are not, as well of the viewer and the cultural knowledge they bring with them… But that's rather more complicated.

If you do want to live with absolutes you have to set up an artificial reality for yourself; a world of simplified views and concepts. And that's perfectly ok actually! :)
We do that all the time and always have, but such “realities” have built in use-by dates. This is because true reality is as relative as DAJB describes, so consensus “absolute” states can only last so long as as reality doesn't diverge too far from them, because once it does then you have to find new “absolutes”.

That means in a sense you're both right:
-Within particular cultural contexts, for certain specific lengths of time, you can have absolutes, and therefore “originality” can be said to be a real and achievable, even desirable goal.
-Taken as a whole though, all “constants” are constantly changing at varying rates, which makes all absolutes virtually impossible. Therefore true originality tends to run counter to the notion of culture, because culture consists of evolving yet connected streams of ideas.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
Abt_Nihil at 3:12AM, Oct. 23, 2008
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NickGuy
i read this essay that argued that all story types boil down to just two things….love, and revenge stories. so nothing can ever be original.

Once upon a time, there lived a pink bunny with funny habits. The bunny did funny things until it kicked the can. THE END.

What can we learn from this? (a) Stories that are actually written don't tell us which stories are possible. (b) Simplification (“boiling things down” ) is not always helpful.

ozoneocean
true reality is as relative as DAJB describes, so consensus “absolute” states can only last so long as as reality doesn't diverge too far from them, because once it does then you have to find new “absolutes”.

(1) Stating that "The concept originality is relative, because it pertains to something (absolute) which does not exist“ is as invalid as stating that ”The concept unicorn is relative, because it pertains to something that does not exist". Unicorns surely aren't relative… Concepts can be about absolutes whithout these absolutes ever existing, but we can still use these concepts perfectly well. If this weren't the case you wouldn't even be able to use the concept “absolute”, eh? :)

(2) There are absolutes which have existed much longer than anything “real”: numbers.

Oh, and why did you cut off my quote just when it started to become interesting? :) When I say DAJB's theory is intuitive, but leads to unacceptable results, the reply I would expect is to answer how the theory can be modified so as not to lead to unacceptable results. Simply stating that the theory "describes reality or what is real" is nothing more than repeating the theory.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
ozoneocean at 3:26AM, Oct. 23, 2008
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Abt_Nihil
(1) Stating that “The concept ”originality“ is relative, because it pertains to something (absolute) which does not exist” is as invalid as stating that “The concept ”unicorn“ is relative, because it pertains to something that does not exist”.

(2) There are absolutes which have existed much longer than anything “real”: numbers.
Your reasoning is a bit tortured there. Originality can exist, but real originality in culture is not a desired state, unless it is of a relative sort: Original in relation to current trends, or original in relation to trends within a country, for example.

-Unicorns are a relative concept. To one person a unicorn might be a non-existent fantasy horse creature that can only be ridden or seen by virgin maidens - to others at varying times unicorns HAVE been rhinos, dear, and various other animals including narwhals.

-Numbers are not absolutes, they are a concept developed by humans in our relatively recent past in order to help us quantify things. They have no external objective existence outside of human culture. They aren't the same within all human culture either and have changed over time; especially in relation to newer larger numbers, the introduction of zero, fractions, and negative numbers.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
Abt_Nihil at 3:44AM, Oct. 23, 2008
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You do realize that there's an ongoing debate about what numbers and unicorns are, right? In light of that, please don't call my reasoning tortured. If my reasoning is erroneous, please just point out the logical error. There are smart people on either debating side, and I am pretty sure none of their reasoning is obviously (logically) erroneous.

I assume we are arguing about which theory explains human practice and linguistic behavior best; this is not an argument about what is “real”, but about which theory can be best applied. If a theory leads to unacceptable results, then it should better be abandoned. That is my main concern about a theory which abandons absolutes altogether. Let's call it the “error-view of absolutes”: Any statement which quantifies over absolutes is wrong.

My gripe is that, when someone holds something to be original, you would usually either agree with him or debate that it is not. You would not meet him with the statement “originality does not exist”. This would be a very uncommon linguistic move, and soon, no one would talk to you about originality any longer.

In my mind, a good theory should not explain away absolutes based on the premise that absolutes do not actually exist. As I quoted Wittgenstein in my first post in this thread: Let's just look at human practice closely. The concept “absolute” has a social and linguistic function. Meeting this concept with the stern view that absolutes just do not exist, that they are not real, is nothing but saying that the theory is wrong, and that view is inadequate exactly because the term “absolute” is so clearly understood among all kinds of people.

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In closing, a hint about my view of mathematics that has little to do with our main discussion, but which might explain my stance a little bit: I do not know any single account that has succeeded in defining numbers purely nominalistically. But I know failed attempts. Because of that, I am drawn toward the view that numbers are universals - that they can not be exhaustively defined by their actual use. Notice that I am not making the holding of either view dependent on whether numbers are real, or exist, but on which theory succeeds in defining them more accurately (the measure for accuracy being actual mathematical practice).
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
ozoneocean at 4:21AM, Oct. 23, 2008
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joined: 1-2-2006
I really do have to say that it's a bit tortured -not because what you say is necessarily wrong, but because as an answer to a simple question it goes the long way about it and seems to answer a different question altogether. :/

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Ok, if we're going to talk about the term “absolute”, even that is very clearly not absolute. Can you see why? Basically it only works within the community of people who understand the language it exists within, and further on from that; within others that have a close equivalent that it can be translated as. Outside of that; nothing except inferences and interpretation.

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You seem to be saying that “to say that originality doesn't exist contravenes its very existence as a term within our language”. Well fair enough, I wouldn't disagree there at all :)

But if we're discussing the nature of originality as it does exist, I simply say you have to define the context in order to understand the sort of originality you're talking about:
-In human culture, taking the long view, true originality is rare and many times (not all though) not useful or wanted- because culture is a continuance, it can't tollerate too much disruption.
-In different human cultures, in different geographic locations, language groups, and times, it is far more common and desired- because it involves the building on or just plain introduction of older or foreign ideas from different times, locations or language groups. These concepts already have a currency and a naturally receptive audience because they've already been built to be integrated.

i.e. The Tuareg pop band Tinariwen seemed very new, unique and “original” when it was introduced to the west, but it had a very receptive audience even so. More receptive and far wider appeal than something like a chainsaw orchestra, or Schoenberg's atonal music; The later being more truly “original” because it didn't already have as much precedence, but even so neither chainsaw orchestras or atonal music were truly “original” (taking a long view) because one is simply a development of the clearly understood and accepted concept for making music and so is the other, plus it uses conventional instruments.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM

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