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Does Infinite Monkey Theorem Prove Originality?

  1. Oct 31, 2011 #1
    First of all, hello!

    Ok, now down to business. So, the postmodern theory basically says that nothing is original. We are just remixing and copying everything that is already there. Basically. But my thought is that we are defining originality in the wrong terms as something completely new in the absolute sense of the word. Yet wouldn't a unique combination of ingredients constitute something original? Take the infinite monkey theorem for example: Isn't the sheer probability of the same work of literature being created again a hallmark of its originality? The fact that only one person could write a given work, given the random probability of life events, experiences, word choice, etc. I'm asking because I'm a literature student and not a math student. Help me out here. Am I completely wrong on this or what? And furthermore, doesn't chaos theory support this idea, if the initial conditions are always changing, i.e., life - each moment. Doesn't that mean everything is 'original'? You would never get the same outcome again. Any author writing any book would never write the same exact words again if you changed one little things. Yes, no? Your thoughts, please.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 31, 2011 #2

    Stephen Tashi

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    Science Advisor

    You should tell the postmodernists that lots of people already said that. Tell them they should try to think of something new.

    I would say no. I've read some routine boring things that monkeys would be unlikely to type.

    Hmm... Similar to: Every human being is unique. Every one we meet has something to teach us. Every cloud has a silver lining. .... It sound's too trite to be a useful theory.

    If you want to grasp at the straws of probability theory in order to make an argument about literature, I suggest you look at "information theory" and "surprisal". That would be based on the analogy that if a literary work is predictable, it isn't very original. (I'm not sure that's true, however.)
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