There are some people who say that ideas are products of a culture as a whole–that no one stands apart from the collective.
But where do ideas come from originally? Before an idea could be in many minds, it had to be in one mind. Thus, ideas come from individual thought. People can and do learn a great deal from others through their experience, but the process of thinking is a fundamentally, inescapably individual process. Learning from others does not mean parroting word sounds, but thinking about the material you are given. Before an idea can be taught, it must be thought of by an individual. Innovative individuals are those who use their own minds to think of new ideas, and thus move the “knowledge of the culture” (i.e. the sum of the knowledge of the network of communicating individuals) forward.
When people work to solve problems as a team, any individual who isn’t thinking on his own, with his physically separate brain, will not contribute to the discussion and will not make any breakthroughs.
Note: At some point, I will likely write a longer article on this issue.