Life builds from the bottom up: a few simple components form chains and then are folded to make complex shapes. These shapes are then combined to make even more complex structures up through a nesting hierarchy of scale, from sub-atomic particles to the universe.

For example, all the proteins in your body (and there are over 70,000 different kinds) were made from only 20 different amino acids, the molecules that are first assembled into chains and then folded into shapes. Proteins, in turn, form the structure of cells and act to support, transport, move, regulate, defend and communicate within the cells. Cells form tissues and tissues form organs and organs constitute organisms and so on up the hierarchy of scale.

The notion of hierarchy is closely allied with the concept “unity within diversity” in which we see that although there seems to be a bewildering array of different life forms, they all share common components and processes. It is also closely connected to the idea of “emergence”, since going up in scale typically means leaping to whole new complexity not explainable by the next lowest scale or its parts.


norbert's picture

Short name for Principle

Tom, I used Hierarchy as a shorter version of Life builds from the bottom up.  Let me know if you would prefer something different.