Is the sun the flower too?

There are (at least!) two ways to consider the flower. One is that the flower is the sum of its parts: bud, leaf, pistil etc. Each part does a job, which sustains the flower. Sunlight, rain, earth are all inputs to the production of “flower”.

Another way is that the sun, the rain, and the earth are part of the flower too. Sunlight then is as much part of the flower as the bud.

“Someone who read an advanced copy of the book said it had a real Buddhist flavor. That delighted me. What comes through is this idea that we are not bounded, fixed, sealed-off, separate individuals. We are part of a whole ecology. We separate our brain not only from the world around us, but also from our own bodies, and that’s a mistake.” – Annie Murphy Paul, June 2021

Thinking in systems helps explain the world. For example, movie economics changed as the entire system changed: nationwide advertising led to event movies, DVD economics led to more movies, international markets led to franchises. Framed this way, was Hollywood separate like the flower? Or, was it the second, where social, governmental, and economic trends were part of the system?

Annie thinks this second view, the sun is the flower too, explains the world better. One contrast she notes is between a computer and a person. The computer works the same regardless of the place, a person does not. This is the reason we get good ideas on a walk – we think different. “The history of innovation,” wrote Stephen Johnson, “is replete with stories of good ideas that occurred to people while they were out on a stroll.”


The Extended Mind is Paul’s book though she has many good podcast interviews. A book full of walking, and other, inspiration is Daily Habits.

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