XIXth-Century Great Ideas Deny or Obliterate the Hierarchy of Levels in the Universe

“While the nineteenth-century ideas deny or obliterate the hierarchy of levels in the universe, the notion of an hierarchical order is an indispensable instrument of understanding. Without the recognition of Levels of Being’ or ‘Grades of Significance’ we cannot make the world intelligible (…) Maybe it is man’s task — or simply, if you like, man’s happiness — to attain a higher degree of realization of his potentialities, a higher level of being or ‘grade of significance’ than that which comes to him ‘naturally’: we cannot even study this possibility except by re-cognizing the existence of a hierarchical structure. To the extent that we interpret the world through the great, vital ideas of the nineteenth century, we are blind to these differences of level, because we have been blinded.” (Ernst F. Schumacher. Small Is Beautiful, pp. 95-96; emphasis added)