I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this argument (usually from American men) when trying to discuss philosophy and profound revelations. Yes, we live in the age of information, and we are influenced by everything around us all the time. Truly original thought is near impossible (although I have met one man in particular who thought that everything he said had never been said before. He’s a self proclaimed megalomaniac though so, don’t take him too seriously). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a profound thought/idea/philosophy and adapt it or apply it to a personal experience or a hypothetical situation to make it mean something else or describe it in different terms. This shows true understanding and makes it original thought rather than parroting.
We are all influenced by the culture and religion of the society we are brought up in.
Parroting of a typical argument:
If you grow up in a Christian household, you’re likely to be Christian yourself.
Being raised in a predominantly atheist area, I learned to to be ashamed of my religious beliefs. However, travelling to different areas of the country, I have been exposed to different cultures and found a new appreciation for religion as a whole, and as separate doctrines. However, I still struggle with the personal shame that I internalised as a child. Shame is also something that is usually associated with religion. It is typical to be taught to be ashamed for not subscribing to the ideals of the religion you are brought up in. Therefore, can Atheism be considered to be a religion in and of itself, as the worship of no Gods, rather than the absence of religion? And if so, is it possible to grow up without the influence of religion?
See how I also included the idea that childhood conditioning could have a more profound effect on a person than cultural exposure alone? And questioned that validity and perceptions of religion? Those aren’t original ideas either. But the fact that I am able to see their connection and relevance to the conversation shows my understanding of several theories. This is how we come up with new ideas/philosophies. We allow different theories to co-mingle and see how they play out in real world scenarios. Simply appreciating them for being clever doesn’t benefit anyone or anything, and what is the point in philosophy if you’re not going to really think.
So yes, everything is derivative but, you know, you can’t make mac ‘n cheese without wheat, water and cows. It’s still it’s own delicious creation though.
(Sometimes, I swear they just say it to try and sound smart.)