To bring all our thoughts into universal order, we now need to refine and extend the primal concepts of being and set a little. First, we regard the shapes and colours of beings, for instance, as attributes of entities. Colour is actually an attribute name, with a range of attribute values, such as red, green, and blue.
In turn, entities are instances of classes. For example, Children’s block is a class with attribute names shape and colour. We can thus regard classes (denoted by bold capitalization) and entities as universals and particulars. The set of values relevant for a particular class is a domain of values or dimension, as a measure of the class attribute. Such domain measurements can be both qualitative and quantitative, such as a domain of colours or the heights and ages of people.
The primal concepts of class, entity, and attribute then provide the basic structure for organizing our thoughts in tables, an ancient idea that goes right back to the first writings found in Mesopotamia, dated from the fourth millennium bce. In modern times, a telephone directory of class Telephone subscriber is a familiar example of such a table, consisting of attribute names name, address, and telephone number.
We can also organize our thoughts graphically as networks of nodes and the relationships between them. Any particular network depicts a structure, where nodes are forms. The vast web of life, depicting relationships between all the species, as forms of life, is an example of such a semantic network.
Such structures of forms are both hierarchical and nonhierarchical. An example of a hierarchical structure is generalization, such as Human, Primate, Mammal, Vertebrate, and Animal in the web of life. The superclass of all generalization structures is Being.
The web of life also has evolutionary hierarchies, both ontogenetic and phylogenetic. For instance, ever since sexual reproduction began around a billion years ago, living beings have had two parents and zero to many children. So families of human beings have most-recent common ancestors (MRCA), a subject that has fascinated humans since records began. Phylogenetically, species have a last common ancestor (LCA), rather like the Proto-Indo-European language in linguistics, illustrated in the Glossary.
The third type of hierarchical structure is aggregation, as we see in social organizations, such as churches and the military, for hierarchy derives from Greek ierarkhiā ‘rule of a high priest’, from ieros ‘vigorous; sacred’ and arkhē ‘origin; rule’. For instance, companies could be organized in divisions, branches, sections, and teams. We can also view any particular physical universe in the multiverse as an aggregation hierarchy, ranging from subatomic particles, through atoms and molecules, to galaxies of galaxies of solar systems.
Any structure that is not organized hierarchically in these three ways is nonhierarchical, which it makes no sense to classify. We can thus see: The underlying structure of the manifest Universe is an infinitely dimensional network of hierarchical relationships, most obvious in the way that information systems architects have designed the Internet, and hence this website.