A concept that I’ve recently discovered is the Great Chain of Being. This was a concept in medieval philosophy that placed everything in the world in a specific place in the hierarchy, with God at the top and dirt at the bottom.

What’s interesting is that this shares various similarities to the –verse hierarchies of this Wiki.

The Great Chain of Being goes as follows,

God → Angels → Humans → Animals → Plants → Minerals

We’re going to ignore God and angels for now, since they complicate things a bit and I’m an atheist anyway (don’t worry, they’ll be fit in later), leaving…


Humans clearly correspond to People in the Verse Hierarchy, which isn’t really much of a problem. However, with animals, they aren’t mentioned in the VH. This may seem to show that the VH and the Great Chain of Being don’t match up very well, but they do. The key piece of information is that “organ system”, in the context of the VH, doesn’t correspond only to organ systems inside humans, but any matter at all that is organized up to the scale of the organ system.

What matter exists that is organized up to the scale of the organ system? Well, animals, of course. In fact, one can identify various levels within the Great Chain category of Animal, each corresponding to a different position of the VH, shown in the table below:

Verse Hierarchy Level As An Animal
Organ System Conscious animals (e.g. Vertebrates)
Organ Unconscious animals (e.g. insects)
Tissue Multicellular life (e.g. sponges)


Plants also have their place on the verse hierarchy, in the same vein as before. However, in medieval times, nobody knew of the existence of single-celled organisms, such as bacteria, and viruses. These entities, being alive but either sessile or monocellular, would probably be classified as plants by medieval philosophers if they knew about them.

Comparing to the VH would look something like this:

Verse Hierarchy Level As A "Plant"
Tissue Multicellular life (e.g. plants)
Cell Monocellular eukaryotes (e.g. amoebas)
Organelle Prokaryotes (e.g. bacteria)
Macromolecular Complex Viruses


Below the level of life, organization can still be compared to the VH, with enzymes and proteins being at the top of the Mineral tier, and individual atoms being at the bottom.


As I said before, I would return to Angels and God. To find where these fit in our physical universe, one should first look at what an Angel actually is – a being of pure spirit. In other words, a mind that can exist independently from a body. If the pattern of the VH vs. Great Chain holds, it should be organized up to a larger scale than humans, and possess greater data-processing ability, and developed later in the history of the universe than people. What matches this description? Well, maybe some sort of post-singularity AI! It’s almost certain that this wasn’t what medieval philosophers meant, but who cares.

And just as animals and plants exist at different levels on the VH, so do AIngels. They range from mere housescale (~10× human intelligence), to planetscale (~$ 10^{10} $× human intelligence), and beyond.

At the very peak of the Great Chain is God, and at the very peak of the VH is the Universe, and with it the hypothetical universe-scale AI.

So yeah, what do you guys think? And do you like this kind of metaphysicsy content?

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