the great chain of being

All this talk of layers of complexity defined by learning and modeling sounds a lot like `the great chain of being', as promoted by Leibniz and Spinoza. I quote Arthur O Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being Lecture V:

so what has happened to these ideas since the 17th century? Schelling added evolution as the means to climb the chain. Since then the theory has fallen out of favor, and the whole thing appears to be regarded as a failure. i have to read more of this book.