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People have always prized “the real thing” over copies. This is why there is only one Mona Lisa. Extremely accurate copies can be made, but they are not prized nearly as highly as the priceless original. The idea that the copy is inferior to the original goes back at least as far as Plato’s “Republic”, where the ideas of “imitation” and “copy” are discussed in philosophical terms.

Other commonplace expressions convey this similar concept: we say “It’s the real McCoy” and “It’s the genuine article”.

But favoritism for originals is not an absolute rule: sometimes the copy is good enough.

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