A concept that throughout my life has helped me think about "things" is that of "Circles within Circles." The concept conceives of the Universe as a circle, with all things in it -- from lizards and magnetic fields to ideas and emotions -- as being reducible, conceptually, to circles. Then the circles can then be thought about abstractly.

Possibly all of the near-infinitude of circles within the Universe Circle have other circles inside them, and other circles within those circles, on and on, plus many circles overlap to lesser or greater degrees. Keeping straight in our minds which circles are within which can be important. For instance, here's an example of how confusing a circle's relative status to other circles can produce possibly catastrophic results:

There are those who say that if something is of critical environmental value, such as drinkable water, the free market system, by its very nature, will recognize the water's value and protect it appropriately. Do away with environmental laws, and the free market system will protect what really needs to be protected.

But, the free market system is one of many circles within the circle of human economic theories, and economic theories make up a circle within the circle of human concepts, and the human concepts circle is a circle within human mentality, and humanity itself is a circle within the animal kingdom, which is a circle within the circle of living things, which itself is a circle within the biosphere, on and on. We've skipped lots of circles-within-circles but this is just an outline.

Compare the deeply buried free market circle with that of the circle of Earth's drinkable water. The circle of the Earth's drinkable water presses up snugly inside the prime planetary biosphere circle itself, so snugly that Life on Earth is impossible without the circle of Earth's drinkable water. It's hardly a step at all from the outer circle to the inner one, but remember how many steps were taken from "free market system" to "biosphere."

In the broad view of things the free market system circle is such a lower-level entity that it gets lost among such other subsidiary circles as the circle of squirrel courtship behavior, the circle of snowflake formation at a given temperature, and the circle of children's fairy tales.

The free market system circle is defined by money flow, so the wisdom of that circle goes only so far as it can relate to money. The wisdom of the free market system proposes that if we run out of drinkable water, people will pay to have polluted water filtered, or have it distilled from seawater. Those without money... are losers.

In profound contrast, the wisdom of the circle of the Earth's biosphere proposes that all living things should have their share of drinkable water. We just have to not destroy what we've been given, is all.

But, the human mind finds it hard to keep straight how all these circles relate to one another, resulting in delusional ideas about many things. The situation is made dicier because the human mind really wants to believe simple, pretty notions that assure us that everything will work out in the end, with very little effort or even attention on our part, if we just believe, if we just have faith.

The Circle within Circles concept helps us sort out the true value and relative importance of things.