Monday, April 9, 2012

Writing things down has become a habit with me. All sorts of things. For many years I’ve carried a small note book in my shirt pocket in which I keep notes to myself—shopping lists, things to do, things to remember. It’s gotten so that I don’t want to do without those little books. When, on occasion, I misplace one of them I feel very lost myself until I find it.

One might look upon this as a bad habit or at least as a crutch. It would be better, some would say, to train one’s mind to not need such a synthetic means for remembering things. Perhaps that’s so. Perhaps with diligent practice I could remember everything very well and eventually do away with all the little books. Perhaps, but I don’t think so. Besides, how long would that take and in the process how many things, some important, would I forget?

Closely related to the little books is the pad and pen I keep on my bedside table. Many of my best thoughts and ideas come when I am in or close to a sleep state. If I don’t remember them and write them down when I awake they are gone forever. I am not alone in this. I remember hearing of people in other fields, engineering or science for instance, who find such sleep-related thoughts valuable in their work and write them down as a matter of course. Which brings on an interesting subject—where do such thoughts come from? Why do they come into being while we are in or close to a sleep state? As far as that goes, where do any ideas originate?

We seem to assume that all ideas are products of our minds, that there are no sources of intelligence other that that which is within our own heads and that there is no communication between those sources. That belief seems to be the basis of the concept of intellectual property that is in use in our society today. This concept, it seems to me, is predicated on the belief that humans are the ultimate intellectual force in the universe. If one entertains the possibility that there is a source of intelligence above and beyond ours, then how can any one of us claim ownership of any idea? How then, is intellectual property justified in terms of religion?

Of course, if I understand intellectual property correctly, it is not a question of who thought of a concept or an idea, but who controls it that makes the difference. It is a matter of power, monetary or otherwise. That concept is probably much easier to rationalize in terms of religion.

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