At the physical core is chemistry: a series of chemical reactions creating a pattern of neural sparking linking senses and processing unit which we translate as thought. If it begins and ends with chemistry, there should be nothing stopping the re-creation of a sentient being simply by re-creating or parallelling a given pattern of chemical reactions. Where, then, lies the distinction between life and non-life? Is it just a matter of chemistry, or is there a separate, "animating" force?
Slightly beyond chemistry lies the question of mind and awareness: is our ability to think and to self-consider synonymous with mind, with soul, with both, with neither? Is mind distinct from soul? Could they be separated in a living being? What would be the results? What is it that brings our "self-hood" beyond the boundaries of mere chemistry -- or does it even exist beyond those boundaries? What is it that makes "I" aware of "myself"?
Beyond mind lies the nature of that self-awareness -- and to be aware additionally, perhaps, that one is always a part of others, or perhaps exists completely in isolation. Perhaps "I" arose from a single animating force -- which then shattered into isolated fragments, perhaps rejoinable, perhaps not. Can we envision a society where the "I" is completely isolated -- where that society is not solely and completely a product of the isolated mind?
If linked, what is the nature of that link? Does it require a uniting principle -- which may or may not be one with an animating force? Can linked consciousness exist independently of a uniting principle? Is a linked self-awareness and/or soul a "fall" into individuality from unity, an extension of unity, or simply that it is the nature of unity to expand and contract "tendrils"?
Is individuality a desirable state? Is there a purpose to individuality (other than to teach the possible desirability of unity)?