On 26 February 2020, DAVID ODERBERG (University of Reading) delivered a talk entitled “Recovering the Hierarchy of Being” for the HPP/Ian Ramsey Centre's 2019-2020 seminar series.
The idea of the Great Chain of Being was a foundation stone of philosophy from Plato to the nineteenth century. Under the onslaught of thinkers promoting varieties of evolutionism, universal becoming, and laws of eternal progress, the idea disappeared from mainstream thought, retreating into the corners of esotericism. The idea, however, deserves reappraisal. Rechristening it more prosaically as the idea of a hierarchy of being, and pruning it of its wilder and less plausible offshoots, we find a metaphysical concept that has much to commend it, deserving serious reconsideration and perhaps even reinstatement at the core of sound philosophy.
DAVID S. ODERBERG is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading. His chief interest is metaphysics, but he also has a major interest in moral philosophy and has published in a number of areas including philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, and philosophical logic, among others. He has written books on metaphysics and ethics, and his latest book, The Metaphysics of Good and Evil, was published in 2019