It's the idea that, basically, if we each have our own paths to walk, so to speak, and if they are all unique to each individual person, then that must mean every possible permutation of a "life" is being felt by someone, somewhere.

For any one person to live a life of (for example) good fortune and health, one person somewhere must also be experiencing a life of the opposite. That if I'm lucky enough not to deal with loss at a young age, someone else must have. Or on a smaller scale, that if I have a good day, there is also someone having a bad day.

It's not quite a personal "Yin and Yang" sort of balance of opposites; more an objective coexistence of every possible experience. I'm trying to find a term or concept to call this, since I'm sure I got it from somewhere or someone smarter than me has come up with it before.

  • 1
    Welcome to SE. It doesn't follow from the fact that we have our own paths to walk that each path must be unique, and it certainly does not follow that all possible experiences must be simultaneously experienced by someone. Your question needs some serious clarification.
    – Ludwig V
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 21:35
  • 2
    Sounds like a version of understanding Many Worlds. You can regard all actuals of your life as relating to counterfactuals, & so in a sense as inextricably defined by the idea of them. What you have become only has meaning contrasted to what you did not become, choices made against those not.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 23:23
  • 1
    [T]hat must mean every possible permutation of a "life" is being felt by someone, somewhere. There are past, present, and future human lives. So it could be someone somewhen or somewhere who is living your unlived life. Joseph Cambell, in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, says There are only two or three human stories and they go on re-telling themselves. All life paths might map to a hologram in each human mind: Each piece of a hologram contains a particular perspective of the image, but it includes the entire object. hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/optmod/holog.html#c4. Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 1:50
  • 1
    Sorry, but "if we each have our own paths to walk and they are all unique to each individual person, then every possible permutation of a "life" is being felt by someone, somewhere" is a non-sequitur too transparent to get a name. There is something called principle of plenitude, which asserts that existence is rich enough to encompass "everything possible", but it does not attempt to make an inference as above, and is not specific to personal experiences or simultaneity.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 6:01
  • This is closely related to Max Tegmark's idea of all mathematically expressible universes existing, and Steven Wolfram's idea of all computational universes existing (he calls it Ruliad).
    – TKoL
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 12:24

1 Answer 1


Your notion is plainly false, and does not follow from the statements you make in support of it. There is certainly a wide variety of lived experience, but it is demonstrably literal nonsense to claim that 'every permutation' must be experienced somewhere, and moreover, simultaneously.

I suggest you might satisfy yourself of what I have just said if you were to begin to compile a list of the attributes that might distinguish one lived experience from another, and note how many varieties of each attribute are possible. For example, gender might be one attribute, and you could assume it takes at least two values. Country of birth could be another, with 195 possible values. Current address could be another with many millions of values. Medical conditions could be another with hundreds of values. Marital status could be another, with several values for single, divorced, married, widowed, remarried once, remarried twice, etc. Number of siblings, number of children, net worth, schooling, religion,... the possibilities are endless, and even if you take a small sample of the variables, you will readily conclude that the number of permutations between them is vastly more than the population of the Earth.

  • I follow the reasoning in your answer, but isn't there also an argument to say that the number of 'possible' permutations is defined not by what we can imagine occurring given the variables, but by what has actually occurred? In other words, we have no reason to believe that anything other than what has actually occurred (or will occur in the future) is possible, other than in our imaginations. We have no evidence of anything else occurring being possible. Perhaps this is part of what the questioner was getting at. Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 12:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .