, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 437-453

Hierarchy, form, and reality


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.


现代科学给哲学提供的最重要成就是提供了一种层次的世界观, 对世界层次结构的分析对形而上学和哲学具有明显的意义。 夏法尔的论文 “是否存在一个基础层次?” 系统地讨论了基础主义在这方面的工作及其面临的问题, 在缺乏论证的情况下最后指出了一条非还原主义的出路: 我们可以把每一个层次都看作是同等的, 承认它们都具有“存在共和国中的完全公民权”。 本文将为此提供一个论证: 将亚里士多德的形式理论应用于世界层次结构的分析, 发展出一种形式实在论, 并以此来论证一种本体论的非还原主义以反对原子主义和物理主义; 提出一种因果理论以反对副现象论; 提出认识论的非还原主义以反对观念原子主义和认识论的还原主义。

Translated from Zhexue yanjiu 哲学研究 (Philosophical Researches), 2007, (8): 73–79, with some revisions by the author