Edge asked the question, “what scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” A lot of people answered. Two of my favorites are related:

Bruce Hood –

Haecceity

Understanding the concept of haecceity would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit because it succinctly captures most people’s intuitions about authenticity that are increasingly threatened by the development of new technologies. Cloning, genetic modification and even digital reproduction are some examples of new innovations that alarm many members of the public because they appear to violate a belief in the integrity of objects

Haecceity is originally a metaphysical concept that is both totally obscure and yet very familiar to all of us. It is the psychological attribution of an unobservable property to an object that makes it unique among identical copies. All objects may be categorized into groups on the basis of some shared property but an object within a category is unique by virtual of its haecceity. It is haecceity that makes your wedding ring authentic and your spouse irreplaceable, even though such things could be copied exactly in a futuristic science fiction world where matter duplication had been solved.

And

Samuel Barondes

Each Of Us Is Ordinary, And Yet One Of A Kind

Each of us is ordinary, and yet one of a kind.

Each of us is standard-issue, conceived by the union of two germ cells, nurtured in a womb, and equipped with a developmental program that guides our further maturation and eventual decline.

Each of us is also unique, the possessor of a particular selection of gene variants from the collective human genome, and immersed in a particular family, culture, era, and peer group. With inborn tools for adaptation to the circumstances of our personal world we keep building our own ways of being and the sense of who we are.