Levels of scale
One of the 15 fundamental properties.
Levels of scale is the way that a strong center is made stronger partly by smaller strong centers contained in it, and partly by its larger strong centers which contain it.
A great variety of well-formed wholes of many different sizes. Often the first thing noticed about things with life in them.
Many things which have been made in our period of history do not have this feature.
The property of having levels of scale is not a mechanical thing, which merely requires a wide range of different sizes. It arises properly only when each center gives life to the next one. It is also extremely important that to have levels of scale within a structure, the jumps between different scales must not be too great.
If the jumps in scale are heavy, deliberate, and somewhat evenly spaced through the levels of scale, a thing will often have this powerful life.
A center becomes most intense in its life when other centers near it have a definite size relation to it at a scale which is perhaps half its size, or twice its size — but not enormously bigger, or enormously smaller. To intensify a given center, we need to make another center perhaps half or quarter of the size of the first. If the smaller one is less than one-tenth of the larger one it is less likely to help it in its intensity.
-> Paper: The Architecture of Complexity
In any system where there is good functional order it is necessary that there be functional coherence at different levels, hence necessary that there are recognizable hierarchies in the organization of these functional systems. The presence of a continuous range of structures, at different scales, with one level never too far from the next level above or below, is common both in organic and inorganic nature.
Each small element, of whatever size, is sufficiently complex, so that by the time there are two or three, or ten of them, the geometry of the combination is complex enough to produce entirely new kinds of forces, which therefore exhibit new kinds of behavior, and so gain existence as coherent semi stable entities at a higher level.
Interplay with other properties
The different levels are not discernible at all, until we identify the things at different levels as wholes: that is, unless we assume we know what it means for the centers at every level to be Strong centers and have Good shape. The levels of scale property also doesn’t work unless some of the elements are big and open, as required by The void. And the hierarchy of levels relies strongly on the fact that the things at lower levels repeat, and sometimes alternate, in their repetition (-> Alternating repetition).
#book/The Nature of Order/1 The Phenomenon of Life/5 Fifteen fundamental properties#
#book/The Nature of Order/1 The Phenomenon of Life/6 The fifteen properties in nature#