About a month ago, I noticed mushrooms growing on a “beheaded” tree. An example of symbiosis, I thought. A week later, I noticed a white thread in those mushrooms, probably a yeast. I wondered whether this was an example of 3-way symbiosis. Several days later, the mushrooms had become a filthy stinking drab. The yeast had probably killed the intruding mushrooms.
Symbiosis “is any type of a close and long-term biological interaction between two different biological organisms ”. When only one species has an advantage then this situation feels more like use or abuse. There are some grey zones in between, like humans having pets (eg, cats, dogs), or domesticated animals (eg, cows), plants (eg, orchids), and trees (eg, bonsai).
In my view, animals like cats and dogs make a choice for cohabitation with humans because advantages (eg, guaranteed supply of food, housing) outweigh disadvantages (eg, curfew hours). Essentially, these animals roam free and keep returning to their “homes”. Obviously, such a choice requires consciousness.
Human family life is also an example of symbiosis. To most family members, the advantages (eg, food, housing) outweigh the disadvantages (eg, curfew, privacy). Both children and parents make a conscious decision to continue interacting. The same concept applies to animal family life, once consciousness is presumed to apply (eg, religious behavior in animals).
It’s tempting to limit symbiosis to planet Earth. Nevertheless, how about our Solar System? Clearly, planet Earth needs the Sun to sustain Life. Does the Sun need planet Earth too? You might disagree. Nevertheless, the Sun keeps its planets in its orbit due to a fundamental force called gravity. Hence, a Solar System might also be viewed as an example of symbiosis.
Some famous philosophers – like Plato, Spinoza and Bertrand Russell – have claimed that the Universe is conscious; a theory called panpsychism. When you look at the above examples, symbiosis seems to be a consequence of consciousness.
The concept of a conscious Universe helps understanding issues like dreaming and a travelling soul (in Akkadian language: zaqiqu) during sleep and in the afterlife (eg, Ancient, The Dream Book or iškar dZaqīqu, my 2017 blog on consciousness). A conscious Universe would also explain the phenomenon of a convergent evolution. Also see my blogs on convergent evolution.
Both consciousness and symbiosis appear to be part of the Universe’s blueprint.
Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.