When we attempt to define life, we tend to refer to individuals, those that are alive. But these individuals might be cells, organisms, colonies… ecosystems? We can describe living systems at different scales. Which ones might be the best ones to describe different selves? I explore this question using concepts from information theory, ALife, and Buddhist philosophy. After brief introductions, I review the implications of changing the scale of observation, and how this affects our understanding of selves at different structural, temporal, and informational scales. The conclusion is that there is no single “best” scale for a self, as this will depend on the scale at which decisions must be made. Different decisions, different scales.

This content is only available as a PDF.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For a full description of the license, please visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode.