Note on Hierarchies

The model discussed in this paper assumes, tacitly, that the logical types can be ordered in the form of a simple, unbranching ladder. I believe that it was wise to deal first with the problems raised by such a simple model.

But the world of action, experience, organization, and learning cannot be completely mapped onto a model which excludes propositions about the relation between classes of different logical type.

If C1 is a class of propositions, and C2 is a class of propositions about the members of C1; C3 then being a class of propositions about the members of C2; how then shall we classify propositions about the relation between these classes? For example, the proposition "As members of Ci are to members of C2, so members of C2 are to members of C3" cannot be classified within the unbranching ladder of types.

The whole of this essay is built upon the premise that the relation between C2 and C3 can be compared with the relation between C1 and C2. I have again and again taken a stance to the side of my ladder of logical types to discuss the structure of this ladder. The essay is therefore itself an example of the fact that the ladder is not unbranching.

It follows that a next task will be to look for examples of learning which cannot be classified in terms of my hierarchy of learning but which fall to the side of this hierarchy as learning about the relation between steps of the hierarchy. I have suggested elsewhere ("Style, Grace, and Information in Primitive Art") that art is commonly concerned with learning of this sort, i.e., with bridging the gap between the more or less unconscious premises acquired by Learning II and the more episodic content of consciousness and immediate action.

It should also be noted that the structure of this essay is inductive in the sense that the hierarchy of orders of learning is presented to the reader from the bottom upward, from level zero to level III. But it is not intended that the explanations of the phenomenal world which the model affords shall be unidirectional. In explaining the model to the reader, a unidirectional approach was necessary, but within the model it is assumed that higher levels are explanatory of lower levels and vice versa. It is also assumed that a similar reflexive relation—both inductive and deductive—obtains among ideas and items of learning as these exist in the lives of the creatures which we study.

Finally, the model remains ambiguous in the sense that while it is asserted that there are explanatory or determinative relations between ideas of adjacent levels both upward and downward, it is not clear whether direct explanatory relations exist between separated levels, e.g., between level III and level I or between level zero and level II.

This question and that of the status of propositions and ideas collateral to the hierarchy of types remains unexamined.

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