SteelEye. The levels given for what you numbered below don't take too seriously. I just dashed them off. What I want to point out is you mentioned "emergence." In real life one can start at any one of the eight. If one starts with 8., 8. is not emerged but here right now. 7. through 1. would be derivated via analysis. Depends on where one starts.
1. Starting with physical materials such as plastic, metals, wood, etc.
These are components, manufactured and cut which make up 2. below.
The value of these can be judged by distance, perspective.
2. Followed by conceptualized objects, such as chairs, beds, trees, etc.
A higher level with 1. lower.
3. Followed by conceptualized groups of objects, such as furniture, toiletries, forests, etc.
Forests are many things. Forests are organic, but perhaps source materials here.
4. Followed by ideas pertaining to conceptualized objects or groups of objects, such as sitting, sleeping, building, deforesting, etc. (a lot of change involved here)
A higher level operating (motion) on 3.
5. Followed by ideas pertaining to other ideas, such as exhaustion, sleepiness, hunger, pollution, etc. (a lot of stuff prompting change involved here)
A still higher level presenting a context for 4.
6. Followed by ideas pertaining to the relationship between (or grouping of) ideas, such as actions, feelings, approaches, etc. (a lot of what we use to interpret causes of change involved here)
A yet higher level of 5.
7. Followed by ideas about the nature of ideas themselves, such as thoughts, beliefs, understanding, etc. (ideas would fit in this final level of abstraction as well) (a lot of what INTP's spend their time on involved here)
Would unknown ideas go even higher?
8. Finally, it seems like we are trying to create another level altogether, with ideas about how to understand understanding itself.
The thing about hierarchy is it can be constructed in many ways. Understanding understanding need not be elevated so high though technically it could be. Understanding is merely a part of psychology or maybe philosophy.
A HYPOTHESIS: "To fully understand any one level, we have to use concepts that are one level more abstract."
Yes a higher level helps understand but doesn't do it all.
So we seem to be trying to break down what we are trying to understand into a lower level (making it into what we can visualize as different "tools") (the remarkable power of hierarchy at work again), but does this detract from the full picture of what we are studying: understanding itself? Could we be failing to understand some emergent property from when all the tools are combined?
If you are talking about understanding the full picture, that is a meaningful issue. Not that we can ever totally understand the full picture, but if we are able to go up and down the hierarchy chain with a modest facility and able to see the picture whole, we then have a good handle on understanding.