Concentric Minds

December 28, 2018

We can look around and observe that, for lack of a better term, lower beings (plants, animals) have varyingly complex conceptions of the world. As life increases in complexity, these models seem to encompass each other: it’s hard to imagine a plant’s view of the world, but a deer’s clearly includes some notion of “plant.” Our human model, of course, includes all these lower beings. They may encounter artifacts and phenomena from our sphere of consciousness, but they can’t understand them, or even really see them: to a deer, a library is meaningless.

Given that we observe a series of concentric spheres of consciousness, and given that we observe each inner sphere to be incapable of understanding what’s beyond it, it seems reasonable to ask: are we really likely to be the outermost sphere? Or should we look at the world’s nested frames of consciousness and infer that we might be no exception—that we might be encompassed by some outer frame that we may sometimes glimpse but never understand?