An integrative level, or level of organization, is a set of phenomena emerging on pre-existing phenomena of lower level. Typical examples include life emerging from non-living substances, and consciousness emerging from nervous systems.
The main levels usually acknowledged are those of matter, life, mind, and society. These are called strata in Nicolai Hartmann's ontology. They can be further analyzed into more specific layers, such as those of particles, atoms, molecules, and rocks forming the material stratum, or those of cells, organisms, populations, and ecosystems forming the life stratum.
The sequence of levels is often described as one of increasing complexity, although it is not clear whether this is always true: for example, parasitism emerges on pre-existing organisms, although parasites are often simpler than their originating forms.
Ideas connected to integrative levels can be found in the works of both materialist philosophers, and anti-materialist ones. A recent theory proposes that God can be conceptualized within the theory of integrative levels.
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