Creating or assembling
"Can one create or even imagine something which is not made from previously seen or known parts" is a question which intrigues me. In other words, do we always assemble things and thoughts from some previously seen/known elements or do we also create new? Especially for inanimate things do we really create new or we just assemble from existing. Even in dreams, is it possible to experience something which is not a composition from already familiar places and faces from our awakened state?
Talking about matter, scientists believe that everything is made from some fundamental particle(s). Across the domains, examples of a whole that is made up from basic building blocks are many. If we are just assembling then can it be so that inventing new things in a domain would be just a matter of writing a program to try out all sensible combinations of the basic building blocks. In fact, a sizable population of scientists seem to be engaged just in such a hit and trial in the hope of inventing something useful. It reminds me of a colleague who jokingly tells us about the secret of high rate at which he produces research papers: जब तक कार्बन से कार्बन जुड़ता रहेगा मेरे पेपर छपते रहेंगे! Indeed!
The above hypothesis (that we assemble from known elements) seem to have another implication: one's ability to invent (and dream fascinating things) should be proportional to the quantities of different parts which are stored in one's memory. In other words, the more inputs one has absorbed into the mind from senses (especially eyes and ears) the easier will it be for him/her to invent. So a well travelled (physically or otherwise) and well read person is more likely to invent something than someone who has always remained within 100 miles of his/her home. It will be interesting to conduct a study on lives of inventors to find out if this hypothesis has some validity.