Hierarchy, form, and reality

Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (3):437-453 (2009)
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Abstract

Scientific progress in the 20th century has shown that the structure of the world is hierarchical. A philosophical analysis of the hierarchy will bear obvious significance for metaphysics and philosophy in general. Jonathan Schaffer’s paper, “Is There a Fundamental Level?”, provides a systematic review of the works in the field, the difficulties for various versions of fundamentalism, and the prospect for the third option, i.e., to treat each level as ontologically equal. The purpose of this paper is to provide an argument for the third option. The author will apply Aristotle’s theory of matter and form to the discussion of the hierarchy and develop a theory of form realism, which will grant every level with “full citizenship in the republic of being.” It constitutes an argument against ontological and epistemological reductionism. A non-reductive theory of causation is also developed against the fundamental theory of causation.

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