In science, Darwin on higher and lower refers to Charles Darwin’s mental notes about how one should never, particularly in evolution discussions, use of the terms “higher” or “lower” in respect to classification in the chain of development, or synthesis of reactants from products, modern speak, or organic from inorganic, in Berzelius speak, being that it leads to absurdities.

The following are Darwin’s main notes on the use of the terms higher or lower:

“It is absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another. We consider those, when the cerebral structure / intellectual faculties most developed, as highest. A bee doubtless would when the instincts were.”
Charles Darwin (1837), notebook jottings [1]

“Never use the words higher or lower.”
Charles Darwin (c.1845), note written on the margin of his copy of Robert Chambers’ 1844 Vestiges of The Natural History of Creation [2]

“With respect to ‘highness’ and ‘lowness’, my ideas are only eclectic and not very clear. It appears to me that an unavoidable wish to compare all animals with men, as supreme, causes some confusion; and I think that nothing besides some such vague comparison is intended, or perhaps is even possible, when the question is whether two kingdoms such as the articulata or mollusca are the highest. Within the same kingdom, I am inclined to think that ‘highest’ usually means that form, which has undergone most ‘morphological differentiation’ from the common embryo or archetype of the class; but then every now and then one is bothered (as Milne Edwards has remarked) by ‘retrograde development’, i.e. the mature animal having fewer and less important organs than its own embryo. The specialization of parts to different functions, or ‘the division of physiological labor’ of Milne Edwards exactly agrees (and to my mind is the best definition, when it can be applied) with what you state is your idea in regard to plants. I do not think zoologists agree in any definite ideas on this subject; and my ideas are not clearer than those of my brethren.”
Charles Darwin (1854), “Letter to Joseph Hooker”, Jun 27 [3]

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Superior | Inferior
In 1993, Canadian thinker Paris Arnopoulos, in his "Life" chapter, to his Sociophysics, sited Aristotle's natural scale theory (see: great chain of being), and stated the following: [4]

“In making this vertical distinction of existential layers we expostulate an order of priority in things; thereby attributing to them ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ status. Ever since Aristotle’s scala natura became responsible for both the quantitative and the qualitative similarities and differences in everything. With increases in quantities of matter and energy, systems become more complex to the point they undergo qualitative changes.”

Here, as with Darwin, we see a similar issue. To state, for example, that the hydrogen atom H is somehow "inferior" or "lower" than the dihydrogen molecule H2, which is to be thereby slotted to be labeled as "superior" or "higher", in the synthesis of the latter from the components of former, is a nonsensical and untenable position to hold.

1. Darwin, Charles. (1837). “Notebook Passage” (Ѻ),
2. (a) Chambers, Robert. (1844). Vestiges of The Natural History of Creation (higher, 34+ pgs; lower, 28+ pgs). W&R Chambers.
(b) Mayr, Ernst. (1988). Toward a New Philosophy of Biology (pg. 251). Harvard University Press.
(c) Klyce, Brig. (2013). “The Second Law of Thermodynamics” (Ѻ),
3. Darwin, Charles. (1854). “Letter to Joseph Hooker” (Ѻ), Jun 27.
4. Arnopoulos, Paris. (1993). Sociophysics: Cosmos and Chaos in Nature and Culture (pg. 39). Nova Publishers, 2005.

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