Inspired by by Gregg Henriques
When a Floor Is the World
A parable suggesting why the philosophical ability to “zoom out” and “take a bigger view” matters
I’m standing on the floor of an apartment that is held up by the floor below it. Unfortunately, I’ve never “zoomed out” to learn that the floor I’m on is supported by something beneath it. And I live my whole life like this — unaware — as does the other person living on the same floor as me. We get along well enough, despite our differences.
One day, the floor shakes and lowers slightly. I look around and ask what’s going on. My neighbor asks the same of me. I ask what he was doing, and he says he was just reading a book. I ask him if he really expected me to believe the floor would move for no reason at all, and my neighbor reiterates his innocence. I sigh, apologize for being on edge, and return to my laptop. I straighten my chair.
This floor is all we’ve ever known, which mean it isn’t a floor but the world. The walls, furniture, windows — these are the decorations of our lives. Everything that has ever happened can be explained and represented by things which can be found on this floor. We have no reason to believe that anything not found on this floor could impact or shape our lives. In fact, it would be irrational to believe otherwise, which means it would be insane to believe that people on a floor below us, the owners of the apartment, have plans. Observation proves we are the only people, and this floor is the only floor.
A crack appears in the left corner of the apartment, growing. I run to my neighbor and ask what’s happening. Again, he claims he was just reading, but I never saw him read, and who else could have caused the crack? There’s no one else, and we’ve never seen floors crack open on their own. I ask my neighbor to tell the truth and promise that I won’t be mad. And my neighbor suddenly asks me to tell the truth and accuses me of scapegoating to avert suspicion. This is exactly how a madman would act.
The owners under our floor, who we don’t know exist and who likewise don’t think about us, are almost finished preparing the demolition. They will replace the apartment with a new property, gaining greater financial yield.
There’s another crack — I snap. But my neighbor punches me first, screaming about me getting us killed because of my carelessness. I hit the floor, roll away, and leap up with fists raised. My neighbor is the only possible explanation for why the world is falling apart. To save it, I must defeat the person with whom I’ve always lived. The road to life is paved with my determination.
The next day, the owners of the apartment finish answering the questions posed by the police regarding the bodies. The owners don’t know why the uncivilized and uneducated people on the floor above them would stab out their eyes, but now the apartment needs to be torn down and replaced. Haunted houses are rarely homes.
For more by Gregg Henriques, please visit here and The 12 Floors of Science. For more by Rose, please visit O.G. Rose.com. Also, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Instagram and Facebook.