Hierarchy of Ideas

Hierarchies are widespread (though this is often denied). To try and give an idea of what I mean by this, I will give a 'scientific' example, where I have guessed at 7 levels :-

  1. those who fully understand quantum theory and its faults and problems
  2. those who fully understand quantum theory
  3. those who partially understand quantum theorypyramid with coloured layers
  4. those who understand lasers (which are derived from quantum theory)
  5. those who understand CD players (which use lasers)
  6. those who use CD players, and who accept quantum theory as truth
  7. those who use CD players, and who have no idea of quantum theory at all

The human population can be divided into a "quantum hierarchy" on this basis - there is a small "highest" group who have a very deep understanding, knowledge or ability, and a lowest group who have never even conceived of that ability. Most of the population is somewhere in between.

Quantum theory is a reality to the Insiders, the scientists and technologists who use it and who can consciously design and create quantum devices such as lasers (and thus CD players), but these are a myth (or even magical) to the Outsiders who use the devices (such as the CD player) without necessarily even knowing it is based on a quantum device. Quantum theory is a typical theory of modern science, but as science advances, it may be refined or even superseded as its shortcomings are discovered.

This idea of looking at the hierarchies of understanding may be useful in a range of other areas.

For example, in a similar but different way, when we look at the State and how it is administered, then we find Elites at the highest level who (we hope) have a sophisticated understanding of government, and how to administer the Country, and (we hope) that this ability is normal and natural to them, and that this is the most efficient and effective way of administering the State - by "Insiders".

  • In their own opinions, these elite members all have the highest motives and the best of intentions, and they are chosen for their high ability levels.
  • However to Outsiders, they might either be seem as
    • indispensible great leaders, or
    • corrupt and cynical conspiracies using scarce resources for themselves and their associates, and using nepotism and old-school tie networks to do favours for each other.
  • It all depends on two main factors
    • is their specialist knowledge freely available or not ? it is in the case of the sciences – anyone can buy the textbooks, and buy some lasers and start experimenting – they may not achieve the deepest understanding, but that is a mater of ability
    • what are the qualifications for entry into the elite ? is it open or not ? clearly for science specialists entry is usually open, but in governments the process is often less transparent, which inevitably gives rise to suspicions, especially when politicians prefer their own “special advisors” to professional civil servants

Many other hierarchies  and elites are possible - hierarchies of wellness, physical fitness, wealth, perhaps even of wisdom. None of these hierarchies are necessarily "better" than any of the others,

Perhaps we can say that there is a general pattern of "hierarchies of understanding", and that we "place" ourselves and each other in them, hopefully in a fair way, but dependent on our own levels in that particular hierarchy. We are often "blind" to the higher levels.