A Philote was the most basic building block of matter, an indivisible particle not made up of smaller components. Philotes took up no space whatsoever, and were essential to the theory of philotic energy. Each atom had a philote of its own, each molecule likewise, and ultimately each human had an aiúa, an intelligent philote. It was theorized that perhaps a single philote contained the essence of humanity, and/or all sentient species in the known universe.
Philotic energy was used as a form of faster-than-light communication, in which messages are transmitted instantaneously via Ansible. Later on, it was also used as a form of near-instantaneous travel, to be transported Outside and back in, arriving at the specified destination (which may be any distance from the origin).
Philotes would combine or 'twine' to make up all matter in the universe. This twining also made possible the ansible, which allowed instantaneous communication over any distance via quantum entanglement. Philotes had no mass or inertia, only location (similar to a geometric point), and extended infinitely in two directions. All philotes were qualitatively different from each other, in that some are 'smarter' than others. As one moves up the levels, from philotes to quarks to atoms to molecules and so on, the patterns in which the philotes twined became increasingly complex. Not all philotes were 'smart' enough to be able to control and maintain these patterns. It took very smart ones, which were called aiúas, to inhabit actual life forms, and become its "master".
The Hive Queens of the Formics were born like the rest of the Formics: unintelligent. The mother of the new queen would call a philote from Outside, and it would come. The Hive Queen also mentioned that humans will do the same thing when conceived; the act of becoming sentient.
Philotes were the fundamental building blocks of all matter and energy. Philotes had neither mass, dimension, nor inertia. Philotes had only location, duration and connection. When philotes combined to make durable structures, they "twined up". Each philote connected itself to the rest of the universe along a single ray, a one-dimensional line that connected it to all other philotes in its nearest immediate structure.
The strands from philotes in a given structure were twined into a single philotic thread that connected to the next largest structure. The threads twined into the next largest structure, and so on.
The individual philotic rays were always there, present in the twines, going on apparently forever. The rays twined together to the planet, and each planet's philotic twine reached to its star, and each star to the center of the galaxy.
A Philotic Web was a philosophical and physical construct that described the interconnection of not only all the aiúas in the universe, but also the lesser-intelligent philotes.
The web was the direct result of every philotic connection in the universe. These connections never touched each other in the truer sense of the word "web," but every being could have been linked to every other being by their interconnected philotes. These philotic connections were not static, and can be strengthened or weakened over time. For example, Si Wang-mu and Peter Wiggin II begin their journey together having only a small philotic connection. As they spent more time together and grew increasingly more affectionate and emotionally attached to each other, coupled with Peter gaining Andrew Wiggin's aiúa, their connection grew stronger and stronger.
The philotic connections could have grown to monumental proportions based solely on emotional and "spiritual" connectedness. Grego was spoken of as having formed a very intense philotic web with the angry mob in Xenocide in a matter of minutes. Additionally, philotic connections could cause physical disturbance or emotional distress when severed.