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Who said: “Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index H > Category: Hierarchy

Hierarchy Quotes (11 quotes)

All that passes for knowledge can be arranged in a hierarchy of degrees of certainty, with arithmetic and the facts of perception at the top.
From 'Philosophy For Laymen', collected in Unpopular Essays (1950, 1996), 39.
Science quotes on:  |  Arithmetic (70)  |  Arranged (3)  |  Certainty (98)  |  Degree (54)  |  Fact (628)  |  Knowledge (1148)  |  Perception (56)  |  Top (30)

Facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome.
'Evolution as Fact and Theory', in Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (1983, 1994), Chap. 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Apple (33)  |  Certainty (98)  |  Data (103)  |  Debate (20)  |  Difference (214)  |  Albert Einstein (555)  |  Explanation (165)  |  Fact (628)  |  Idea (457)  |  Increasing (4)  |  Interpretation (63)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (261)  |  Outcome (10)  |  Rival (9)  |  Scientist (459)  |  Structure (193)  |  Suspend (9)  |  Theory (585)  |  Theory Of Gravitation (6)  |  World (746)

In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals. In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.
As quoted in magazine article by James Fallows, 'When Donald Meets Hillary', The Atlantic (Oct 2016). The reporter stated “Jane Goodall … told me shortly before Trump won the GOP nomination.”
Science quotes on:  |  Branch (63)  |  Chimpanzee (12)  |  Display (22)  |  Dominance (5)  |  Drag (3)  |  Faster (11)  |  Imaginative (6)  |  Impress (11)  |  Individual (185)  |  Longer (5)  |  Maintain (25)  |  Male (24)  |  Performance (27)  |  Position (59)  |  Remind (9)  |  Rise (64)  |  Ritual (9)  |  Rival (9)  |  Rock (118)  |  Seek (69)  |  Slap (2)  |  Spectacular (9)  |  Stamp (14)  |  Throw (35)  |  Donald Trump (3)  |  Vigorous (12)

It is the task of science, as a collective human undertaking, to describe from the external side, (on which alone agreement is possible), such statistical regularity as there is in a world “in which every event has a unique aspect, and to indicate where possible the limits of such description. It is not part of its task to make imaginative interpretation of the internal aspect of reality—what it is like, for example, to be a lion, an ant or an ant hill, a liver cell, or a hydrogen ion. The only qualification is in the field of introspective psychology in which each human being is both observer and observed, and regularities may be established by comparing notes. Science is thus a limited venture. It must act as if all phenomena were deterministic at least in the sense of determinable probabilities. It cannot properly explain the behaviour of an amoeba as due partly to surface and other physical forces and partly to what the amoeba wants to do, with out danger of something like 100 per cent duplication. It must stick to the former. It cannot introduce such principles as creative activity into its interpretation of evolution for similar reasons. The point of view indicated by a consideration of the hierarchy of physical and biological organisms, now being bridged by the concept of the gene, is one in which science deliberately accepts a rigorous limitation of its activities to the description of the external aspects of events. In carrying out this program, the scientist should not, however, deceive himself or others into thinking that he is giving an account of all of reality. The unique inner creative aspect of every event necessarily escapes him.
In 'Gene and Organism', American Naturalist, (1953), 87, 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Amoeba (20)  |  Ant (20)  |  Cell (130)  |  Evolution (500)  |  Gene (70)  |  Hydrogen (39)  |  Interpretation (63)  |  Ion (8)  |  Lion (15)  |  Liver (12)  |  Observation (421)  |  Organism (144)  |  Statistics (127)  |  Task (71)

Most classifications, whether of inanimate objects or of organisms, are hierarchical. There are “higher” and “lower” categories, there are higher and lower ranks. What is usually overlooked is that the use of the term “hierarchy” is ambiguous, and that two fundamentally different kinds of arrangements have been designated as hierarchical. A hierarchy can be either exclusive or inclusive. Military ranks from private, corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, up to general are a typical example of an exclusive hierarchy. A lower rank is not a subdivision of a higher rank; thus, lieutenants are not a subdivision of captains. The scala naturae, which so strongly dominated thinking from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, is another good illustration of an exclusive hierarchy. Each level of perfection was considered an advance (or degradation) from the next lower (or higher) level in the hierarchy, but did not include it.
The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution and Inheritance (1982), 205-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (128)  |  Ambiguity (13)  |  Arrangement (47)  |  Classification (79)  |  Degradation (12)  |  Different (132)  |  Exclusive (11)  |  Fundamental (124)  |  Inanimate (15)  |  Level (57)  |  Military (24)  |  Object (117)  |  Organism (144)  |  Perfection (75)  |  Rank (20)  |  Thinking (223)

One of the great commandments of science is, 'Mistrust arguments from authority'. (Scientists, being primates, and thus given to dominance hierarchies, of course do not always follow this commandment.)
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996), 31.
Science quotes on:  |  Argument (60)  |  Authority (51)  |  Commandment (6)  |  Domination (12)  |  Mistrust (4)  |  Primate (8)

One of the petty ideas of philosophers is to elaborate a classification, a hierarchy of sciences. They all try it, and they are generally so fond of their favorite scheme that they are prone to attach an absurd importance to it. We must not let ourselves be misled by this. Classifications are always artificial; none more than this, however. There is nothing of value to get out of a classification of science; it dissembles more beauty and order than it can possibly reveal.
In 'The Teaching of the History of Science', The Scientific Monthly (Sep 1918), 194.
Science quotes on:  |  Absurd (20)  |  Artificial (27)  |  Beauty (200)  |  Classification (79)  |  Elaborate (14)  |  Favorite (18)  |  Fondness (7)  |  Idea (457)  |  Importance (186)  |  Nothing (302)  |  Petty (6)  |  Philosopher (134)  |  Reveal (38)  |  Scheme (20)  |  Science (1741)  |  Value (188)

Science, in its ultimate ideal, consists of a set of propositions arranged in a hierarchy, the lowest level of the hierarchy being concerned with particular facts, and the highest with some general law, governing everything in the universe. The various levels in the hierarchy have a two-fold logical connection, travelling one up, one down; the upward connection proceeds by induction, the downward by deduction.
In The Scientific Outlook (1931, 2009), 38.
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The only level of the hierarchy [of biological communities] that is both necessary and sufficient to meet all objectives is the ecosystem or some higher-level approach. The strategy selected should not only ensure the conservation of spotted owls, but all the intricate linkages that are associated with natural populations of spotted owls in naturally functioning ecosystems. Many of these are as yet unknown.
In The Fragmented Forest: Island Biogeography Theory and the Preservation of Biotic Diversity (1984), 107.
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The puritanical potentialities of science have never been forecast. If it evolves a body of organized rites, and is established as a religion, hierarchically organized, things more than anything else will be done in the name of 'decency.' The coarse fumes of tobacco and liquors, the consequent tainting of the breath and staining of white fingers and teeth, which is so offensive to many women, will be the first things attended to.
Wyndham Lewis: an Anthology of his Prose (1969), 170.
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Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein’s theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome. And human beings evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered … Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us for a style of argument that they themselves favor).
'Evolution as Fact and Theory', in Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History (1983), 254-255.
Science quotes on:  |  Apple (33)  |  Argument (60)  |  Certainty (98)  |  Creationist (15)  |  Data (103)  |  Debate (20)  |  Albert Einstein (555)  |  Evolution (500)  |  Fact (628)  |  Idea (457)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (261)  |  Rival (9)  |  Structure (193)  |  Suspend (9)  |  Theory (585)  |  Theory Of Gravitation (6)  |  Truth (764)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
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Francis Bacon
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- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
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