This essay The Great Chain of Being has a total of 497 words and 3 pages.
The Great Chain of Being
History of Science 333
Most of the concepts about the nature of living things in the early modern era were derived from the writings of Aristotle. Aristotle wrote about the concept of distinct types of organisms that could be distinguished from all the rest. Aristotle was interested in much more than the biological world, and attempted to build a theory of the world as a whole. As part of this theory, he believed that all of nature could be seen as a continuum of organization from lifeless matter. This matter consisted of the four embracements of water, earth, fire and air and composed everything all the way to the most complex forms of life. He thought of humans as different from the rest of animals though because of their capacity for reason and thought. Aristotle proposed a rank ordering of all living things, from the least to the highest (humans). This idea developed, during the later centuries, into the concept of the "Great Chain of Being". All living things were seen as members of unchanging types, called species, which could be ordered from the least to the highest. Each species has at least one similarity between the species above it and below it in the “ladder”. Only individuals were born and died; species themselves were eternal. The metaphor of the "chain" of being suggested that these species were linked to each other by a logical progression. This concept, in the Western tradition, is the result of the attempt to combine the Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology.
To look at this from the religious standpoint natural theologists used the great chain of being to show that God had created stability in the world and linked all life together to prove that God existed. God created species in the great chain of being in a perfect set and hierarchy. In the religious aspect, God and the angels were at the top of the ladder and gave humans the “divine right” to command over the animals on down to plants, and then earth itself.
The fixity of species was also blended over to the political aspects of humanity by showing how different social classes “mock” the natural world. The monarch was seen as the direct ruler from God and has the divine right to command his country from God and is stable at the top of the chain of being. The other aristocrats and the religious authorities would represent the other “higher” orders of the natural world and so on down the line to the peasants with each social class “stuck” in its place.
The Great Chain of Being as described by Aristotle was adapted to the religious doctrine of Christianity through time to the early modern era as describing the fixity of the natural world. The chain was later used to show how the ladder was fit into the religious aspect of hierarchy as well as the political classes of humanity.
Topics Related to The Great Chain of Being
Empiricists, Metaphysicians, Esotericism, Great chain of being, Hierarchy, Aristotle, God, Reason, Species, Christian theology, Nous, Nicomachean Ethics
Essays Related to The Great Chain of Being
BerkeleyBerkeley As man progressed through the various stages of evolution, it is assumed that at a certain point he began to ponder the world around him. Of course, these first attempts fell short of being scholarly, probably consisting of a few grunts and snorts at best. As time passed on, though, these ideas persisted and were eventually tackled by the more intellectual, so-called philosophers. Thus, excavation of the external world began. As the authoritarinism of the ancients gave way to the more
Third ExamThird Exam Third Exam. Take-Home. Due April 21st; your grade declines one grade level for each day late. If you use any web source, use quote marks and list citation; presentation as your own writing of a web source or a published book or article will get an F for the course (remember how easy it is to search the web). Retain a copy of your paper and be prepared to explain your answers in an oral examination. Instructions: Type your paper and write no more than 2,000 words in toto. Answer questi
Berkeley's Theory of ImmaterialismBerkeley\'s Theory of Immaterialism Free Will Determinism MW 11:45 As man progressed through the various stages of evolution, it is assumed that at a certain point he began to ponder the world around him. Of course, these first attempts fell short of being scholarly, probably consisting of a few grunts and snorts at best. As time passed on, though, these ideas persisted and were eventually tackled by the more intellectual, so-called philosophers. Thus, excavation of the external world began. As
Should the fundamental question in epistemology beShould the fundamental question in epistemology be How can I know ? On the other hand, should it rather be What can I know ? INTRODUCTION: In this essay, I will look at both these questions as they both seem to play a major role in the study of knowledge. I will cover two of the main elements that correspond to these questions of attaining knowledge, Empiricism, and rationalism. In order to show examples of both these views; I will use the philosophical thinking of Rene Decartes, a rationalist w
Kantian PrinciplesKantian Principles Kant wants to avoid the skeptical attack by excluding experience from his judgements. By doing so, he makes an attempt at evaluating moral acts in themselves (a priori), without any prior knowledge (a posteriori). This allowed him to avoid the empiricists of his time as they claimed that all of our knowledge, as well as our morality, stemmed from experience. His philosophical project was this: to find an a priori morality that did not rely on experience or prior knowledge, rat
PhilosophyPhilosophy When I was born, I did not know the difference between right and wrong. Now, I do. The word philosophy means the love of knowledge. One type of knowledge is propter quid, which ask the question why or how. In this paper, I will demonstrate how Socrates, Hume and Aristotle, three well known philosophers, would explain how I acquired this knowledge in relation to the principles of right and wrong. Socrates is the first philosopher, I will discuss. Since Socrates did not write anything d
True and FalseTrue and False True and False seem to be such clear and simple terms, opposites and mutually exclusive. In reality, however we may inhabit, in much or even most of our knowledge the fuzzy area in between the two. Discuss the difficulties of attempts to draw a clear line between the two categories in at least two areas of knowledge. The question of the definition of true and false has for centuries of western civilization baffled the greatest of philosophers. The question being not just simply th
Knowledge and Selection: Knowledge and Selection: The Two Approaches to Evolutionary Epistemology Wei-Li Jao Ph.D. Candidate in Philosophy Graduate School and University Center City University of New York I. Introduction Evolutionary epistemology aims to enrich our understanding of knowledge by incorporating the perspective of evolutionary theory into the study of epistemology. Among its most eminent advocates in philosophy are Quine and Popper. Quine believes that the reliability of human cognitive system has its root