I am collecting examples of persons/.../groups reaching identical reasoning but in an independent way. Here are only three examples of such collection: *[Leibniz/Newton: Calculus], [The Lotka - Volterra predator prey equations were discovered independently by Alfred Lotka and by Vito Volterra in 1925-26 ], [Joel Mokyr / Cesar Hidalgo: in books The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy / Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies ]*, see picture below. In case you bumped in situations of reaching identical reasoning in a independent way I would be pleased if you would share them, please. enter image description here

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    I believe there could be a genetic component, iow some brains may be wired in similar fashion with similar problem-solving capabilities. Diet could also be an important factor, for obvious reasons.
    – Bread
    Jan 23, 2019 at 12:08
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    It might be usefull to look at indian or chinese philosophy and look if you find examples. The best way to do so is most likley comparative philosophies that tries to compare/integrate different philosophical traditions that developed rather isolated and independently. This is also connected to the question if we could diversify the curiculum by replacing western author x with f.e. Indian author y and still cover the same philosophical ground in field F. See: plato.stanford.edu/entries/comparphil-chiwes And iep.utm.edu/comparat
    – CaZaNOx
    Jan 23, 2019 at 14:59
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    It happens all the time. It's called the zeitgeist.
    – Richard
    Jan 23, 2019 at 17:37
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    Landmann, Michael (1974). Philosophical anthropology. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. ISBN 978-0664209957.
    – Gordon
    Jan 23, 2019 at 20:02
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    Be careful with this, Leibniz's and Newton's calculus ideas were very far from "identical". They were convertible into each other in hindsight, but used very different conceptions (kinematic for Newton, infinitesimals for Leibniz), and it is like that in many other cases. If anything, these examples suggest that even equivalent ideas are not identically handled, and there is no "pre-formatted mind".
    – Conifold
    Jan 23, 2019 at 20:59

1 Answer 1


There are some distinctions to be made: we are presented with examples, like (Leibniz/Newton: Calculus), these are instances of the phenomenon which may be individually disputed (as Conifold has done). The phenomenon itself, termed "identical reasoning", could be caused by more than one possible mechanism. A proposed mechanism/cause would be a "pre-formated mind". Though I won't outright dismiss the idea of a "pre-formated mind", let me present here an alternative explanation for the phenomenon described.

Most technology is dependent on others, for example you couldn't make an electric motor without an understanding of electricity and the ability to make bearings. In a similar way ideas are dependent on other ideas, for instance the concept of "computer" must exist before someone could think of a "personal computer".

It should be obvious that over time technology will tend to accumulate through the mechanism of multiplication and recombination of entities. The same principle applies to ideas. So when there is a particular confluence of ideas/technology/knowledge, the time is right for a new concept to emerge.

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