When attempting to understand our place in the universe, we must try to single out a question that, by its very definition, attempts to verify absolute location. In the event that this location cannot be defined by even the most accurate coordinates of space and time, we must consider the possibility that are reality exists, in and of itself, within some greater reality, in both directions small and large.
To better understand this proposition, consider the shells of an onion. Each shell could represent a different construct for which all shells beneath that shell are part of. For example, if our universe were at the core of this "onion," one could imagine that if our universe we programmed into a virtual world, much like that depicted in the movie, "The Matrix," the reality that the constructs of that virtual world exist in would be a shell above ours. Continuing in both directions, one can imagine a possibly endless layering of shells below and above our own shell that we call the universe. Beyond the outermost shell, by its very definition, would need to be nothingness.
Beyond this striking proposition, for our purposes there are three different scenarios of either being in the outermost shell, the innermost shell, or somewhere in the middle, many more combinations can be imagined. If information can be transmitted through all of the shells, the ultimate nature of reality would be connected. If only some shells could transmit information through one another, the ultimate nature of reality would be mixed. If there is no ability to communicate information between shells, the ultimate nature of reality is disconnected. These three possibilities combine with the other possibilities of our universe's location within the shells to produce numerable scenarios.
Ultimately, onion-shell reality acts as a philosophically-argumentative tool for illustrating some of the many possibilities of the ultimate nature of reality. It also acts as a means for illustrating some of those possibilities.
Joshua C Sawyers