1. A detail of a system
2. An individual
3. A “colony”
And every living thing has at least three areas of mind
1. The mind playing a role in the system (a mind we never consciously experience, because we are an element of it. Imagine the Internet as a mind, think of your actions on the web as this element)
2. The individual mind (Day to day you.)
3. The component minds (The cluster of selves and parts of selves that make us up.)
And each level is the emergent product of its components.
Take an ant. Take this one in particular. We’ll call him Tim.
1. Tim as one of thousands is how we think of him. As a detail of a system, a tiny component, necessary but utterly replaceable, below recognizing as an individual.
2. Tim from Tim’s perspective; sensing, perceiving, acting as a singular being
3. Tim as a giant colony of tiny components: The cells and microbes that make him up. His corporate essence, emergent from the syntheses of these.
OK then, what about those cells and microbes?
1. The cell as a component of the living system.
2. The cell responding to its environment
3. The cell is made up of Proteins and and minerals.
OK then what about the Proteins?
1. The protein is an aspect of the cells
2. The protein responds to chemical and physical changes
3. The protein is made up of amino acids and molecules
OK, what about the molecules?
1. The molecules are a constituent of the proteins
2. The molecules react to environmental changes (heat, pressure, temperature)
3. The molecules are made up of atoms.
Life is layered and patterned, the patterns repeat upward. Upward because each layer emerges from a simpler, smaller one. Life stacks toward greater complexity.
There may well be systems two or three levels above us that we cannot imagine with our primate brains any more than Tim the ant can imagine a clown performing at a child’s birthday party. Or it may be that these levels above us are under construction, and will appear when the critical mass required brings them into existence. In either event we are part of it.