Reoccurring Ideas

carrotsArtists usually acknowledge borrowing or even stealing ideas. It sounds better to say “imitation is the highest form of flattery.” Who had the original idea? It’s hard to know because we’ve been “flattering” each other forever.

Maybe there are just very few new ideas. Is it important that an idea’s current iteration came without an awareness of an earlier form or it’s just a recasting of an earlier idea,if the impact or relevance is still there? An attribution is mainly of interest to academically minded folk or someone impressed by the fame of the originator.

Here’s what got me thinking about this. These are some quotes I noticed in my clippings file, a file of ideas I like and jotted down. I noticed they share a common thread about what works in life.

Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle d. 322 BC

Be as you wish to seem. – Socrates d. 399 BC

Make your fighting stance your everyday stance. –  14th Century Japanese martial artist

Celebrate what you want to see more of. – Tom Peters

Excellence gets rewarded. – unknown

How aware would a 14th century Japanese martial artist have been about a Greek philosopher’s ideas from more than a thousand years before? And who, if anyone, was on the radar of Aristotle during his time? Socrates probably knew Aristotle’s work.

Is it borrowing, stealing, flattering, or just hard won knowledge? Hard to know.