A question was recently brought to me by the mind of HollyMatrin on the nature of public and private property and the nature of thought. Most importantly, and at the heart of his comments, where do these two notions meet? The answer to which must remain far from our minds until we pin down what exactly the phenomenon of public property entails and what our concept of ‘ideas’ entail. First let us begin with the less mundane… the world of ideas.
Ideas are solely private phenomena. You can never share, give, or even steal an idea from anyone unless it is committed to an external media: speech, writing, etc. Unlike some other forms of property ideas are completely invisible and undetectable outside of your mind unless you will it to become external from you. The question is whether or not this choice to externalize thoughts makes the thoughts public.
On the other end of things you also have this question: Is it possible to NOT steal an idea? Once the idea or thought is committed to an external source and you obtain it from that external source is their anyway you can opt not to steal it. If the idea is a good one you would want to keep it and make it part of your own philosophy and if the idea is bad then you would want to use it as an especially poor example of those things that you do not believe in. Once you internalize the external media into your mind is the idea yours or not? If not, then aren’t we demanding our ideas be stolen… asking for them to be stolen… by putting them on external media. We cannot logically expect that after we say something it won’t be repeated, changed, or amended after our saying it by the ears that hear it. Can such be considered stealing? Or is it merely the nature of man?
So we have two extremes: The first is the thinker who comes up with the idea who willingly reveals that internal phenomena to external listeners (through speech in this example). On the other we have the listener who, if he is functioning in accordance with human nature, will internalize that external media and bring it into himself in some way. Yet, unlike in most cases of theft, the idea remains also within the original thinkers head. Can you even steal what somebody still owns after your done? We shall throw this thought aside as a mistake of language rather than an actual aid in our discussion. What we call ‘stealing’ cannot at all be used to describe this phenomenon but perhaps plagiarism or some other word could. So we remove this criticism even as it leaves my mind onto this page.
What plagiarism and stealing have in common is the idea of property. Property relies on a concept of ownership which is derived by some method of taking something to be one’s own and nobody else’s. When a person owns a thing they decide its destiny by matter of law not by nature necessarily. So hence we step away from nature while keeping it in mind. Our investigation so far has shown that ideas are naturally internal and their external manifestation is natural and perhaps even the impulse to take those ideas and make them our own is natural but such does not necessarily determine law. With that thought permanently etched into the internet, I will retire and leave whatever readers to ponder our procession thus far, but I advise anyone who questions, contemplates, or even discusses this post outside of this forum to realize what their reaction may say about the nature of this post. Even as your eyes travel across this field of letters can you be thought of as a thief?