Scope of Mind

You make your way down some winding corridors before coming to the door of a small office. After you knock on the door, a soft voice invites you in.

Hello, are you looking for information on consciousness? Or maybe some entertaining observations from Zeno? Of course you are. I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there is an exhibit on these matters, and it is very impressive! The bad news is that it's located in the future, so you'll have to wait until it's ready for you.

The lady laughs at her own cleverness, before continuing...

Most of my team is in a meeting; we are all busy preparing for tomorrows festivities. I would recommend chatting with one of our newest members; he joined us recently and is setting up a related exhibit on Diodorus Cronus. He focuses on motion, change, and potentiality, and apparently he has no shortage of puzzles and arguments to consider. He actually gave us a lot of ideas on how to describe our personal awareness of change and our sense of decision making. My goal is to place our limited experience as living, changing things into an ontological system that is complete and does not favour one moment over any other.

I'm not sure what I can tell you today, but I can at least share a few words. I can also offer you a copy of some notes I was working on. Perhaps you can read over them at the Guesthouse if you're planning to stay here a while. Hopefully you can come see me again during the festivities tomorrow. Usually we prepare interactive exhibits that allow guests to explore all Zeno's extant paradoxes and other observations. During events, we also like to give a prize to whoever comes up with the best paradox, too.

If you want to chat right now, we could try defining awareness or experience. Perhaps we should start with the claim that it is the sensation of being a thing. However, recently I've been ruminating over the question of determinacy. I've decided to talk to you, but surely I could just as easily shut my mouth and ignore you. Perhaps you could even decide to just turn around and walk back out that door, regardless of whether I talk or remain silent. All these scenarios seem coherent and plausible, so why is one favoured over the others? Is it really favoured, are we really experiencing a favoured string of events and excluding or destroying the others? Or are we diffuse and experience all those possibilities; that is to say, are our choices relative, will we inevitably experience each path and all of the emotions or desires proper to them?

There are a few other things we should tackle; in a way we are drawing this picture from two angles. We live it, so there is something inherent and pure to put on the canvas. Yet to put something on a canvas, we need a canvas and suitable materials; we need a context. If you've been through the general exhibits, you understand that this subject is subsumed by a broader metaphysics. I recommend spending some time at the grove or guesthouse contemplating what this entails. We must also appreciate the insight of Zeno and Diodorus, who revealed the challenges involved in divisibility, infinity, time, motion, and so on. Only when we are confident about the context can we paint a coherent picture of life. Thankfully, by virtue of being alive we have secure footing to carry out this enquiry.

We must also decide where we are. We cannot make this particular moment our home, can we? By the time I finish this sentence, we will have walked away from it. We can look ahead to a point where we have the answers, but that assumes our perspective back here, wallowing in ignorance. They say there's a distinction between the observer and the observed, yet we are both. We are together at the temple, we walk down this road of enquiry, we know the answers. The Diodorus fellow probably talked your ear off about how motion is diffuse, indeed change in general is diffuse. Well, life is diffuse. The narrow is soaked in the broad; life bears the indelible mark of change. My team has been updating the main exhibits in the temple; it's an ongoing process, but they reflect this thinking.

I wanted to talk more about determinacy, though. Put aside the fact that some points seem closer or further away, that is easy enough to answer in light of the Whole. Today I am more curious about my choices, why I feel like I can push towards some moments and away from others. You and I can even compete and push against each other. I suppose it must all be understood as relative in light of the Whole, but there are many questions to explore. The ontology also adds an interesting flavour to our ethical judgments.

Biographies are worth considering. The author tells the story of a life and reviews their choices and potential. They focus on a living thread and present it complete. We should take that approach; we don't need to wage war against the metaphysics of our situation, that's futile, our story is complete no matter where we stand. Our story has many branching paths, but I suspect it will also be a shorter story than some suspect. Not to imply the story terminates in a dead-end, for we are necessarily immortal given the ontology.

On that point about the length of life, people tell me that all sorts of things are physically possible. However, when drawing up a life the biographer must consider the nature and direction of the subject's will. I could throw a book at you right now, but my general disposition is such that I would never do so without extreme provocation. Similarly, I suspect you would never offer that provocation in this context. Therefore, although it is possible for a human to throw a book at another human, it doesn't follow that it is possible for us to be in that situation. When writing a biography, we want to depict a particular person, not some generic entity that embraces all conceivable actions, decisions, and the like.

But maybe I left the thread of reason long ago. Perhaps the exhibit on Change would be a better place for you to visit. Or you could try dreaming about it at the Guesthouse, maybe a goddess will reveal the truth to you! I'll even provide some of my old notes on metaphysics for you to review, maybe they will help put you to sleep.

The lady winks at you and smiles, before thanking you for your visit.


  1. Thank the person and head to the general exhibit on change...
  2. Review the copy of her old notes while retiring to the Guesthouse...
  3. Invite her out to the grove to discuss these questions further...