The Great Chain of Being is a hierarchical structure of all matter and life, thought in medieval Christianity to have been decreed by God. The chain starts with God and progresses downward to angels, humans, animals, plants, and minerals. The Great Chain of Being (Latin: scala naturae, "Ladder of Being") is a concept derived from Plato, Aristotle (in his Historia Animalium), Plotinus and Proclus. Further developed during the Middle Ages, it reached full expression in early modern Neoplatonism.
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