Great Chain of Being Essay

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Great Chain of Being A concept outlined by Aristotle, Christianized during the Middle Ages, questioned during the cultural shift of the 17th century – The Great Chain of Being still permeates Western ideologies. In Aristotle's chain, man was at the top, to be dropped below God and the angels in the religious-minded Middle Ages and it still held sway in pre-evolutionary time "where humans were (considered) the most perfect of the earth bound beings." Vast chain of being! Which from God began, Nature's aethereal, human, angel, man, Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see, No glass can reach; from Infinite to thee, From thee to nothing. - On superior pow'rs Were we to press, inferior might on ours; Or in the full creation leave a void, Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd; From nature's chain whatever link you strike, Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike. - Alexander Pope, 1773 Today we live in what is commonly called a “classless society.” That is not quite true, but most people like to think of the United States in that way. In pre-modern culture, class consciousness, station, place, and rank affected everything these people did or thought. To put it simply, the medievals believed that there was and should be a place for everything and everything was and should be in its place. In the Great Chain of Being, the King is the highest ranking or highest link in the chain here on Earth. He in turn is but a link in the chain—above him the nine orders of angels, then God at the apex. • God—transcendent being; • angels—purely rational and spiritual—no bodily feeling; • people—have existence, life, feeling, and understanding—bridge between matter and
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