Author Topic: Teleology in Nature  (Read 61 times)

Brian

  • Global Moderator
  • Posts: 11
    • View Profile
Teleology in Nature
« on: October 12, 2020, 01:37:45 pm »
What are the best arguments for accepting teleology as a real feature of the natural world?  Are there any good contemporary accounts/defenses of teleology in nature?

ClassicalLiberal.Theist

  • Member
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
Re: Teleology in Nature
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2020, 06:02:54 pm »
I guess it depends on whos definition of teleology you are working with. Teleolgy, to Aquinas, was just the fact that physical things have certain dispositions: ice melts when it gets too warm, wood burns, quantum particles don't decay into flowers but into other particles, etc. It seems to me this sort of teleolgy is self-evident, and you would have to reject nearly every piece of scientific literature out there, which seems like a harsh conclusion and unwarrented skepticism. If you are working with Paley's defintion, the one which is often employed, then I have a bit less to say. In my opinion, the intelligent design folks might (might is an important word. I wouldn't defend their positions too strongly) have something going for them when it comes to the existence of the first single celled organism. It seems pretty unlikely on a purely naturalistic worldview that such a thing would arise. The best evidence of teleolgy in nature, in my opinion, would be the fine tuning argument; however, a multiverse hypothesis seems to me more probable than a theistic one. If you really want to know more about this, I would ask Atno. Personally, I think teleological arguments, although interesting, don't get very far.

Dominik

  • Member
  • Posts: 35
    • View Profile
Re: Teleology in Nature
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2020, 06:12:16 am »
CLT, do you think the fifth way doesn't work? Why? I like these teleological arguments, although I have a tendency with supplementing them with the PSR

RomanJoe

  • Member
  • Posts: 27
    • View Profile
Re: Teleology in Nature
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2020, 04:16:11 pm »
Teleology has always seemed evident to me. It's the common sense view--beings have metaphysical dispositions and these dispositions aren't arbitrary or random.

Teleology and essentialism go hand in hand. I think the conscious whole we call the human being, or even the conscious whole we call the animal, have persuaded me of some kind of essentialism. And by some kind I mean a sort of Aristotelian top down approach. The fact that matter can be rendered into an irreducible conscious whole, capable of qualia-laden, and rational behavior that outstrips the bare capabilities of its material parts, tells me that there is some organizing principle, something that baptizes the otherwise disparate world-stuff into wholes greater than their parts.

Organizing principle, nature, essence, whatever you call it, is defined by its natural potentials. Humans are rational animals. Find a mature human whose potential for rational thought is somehow thwarted and we call him mentally handicapped, insane, etc. Why? Because there's an expectation of a certain metaphysical disposition, a disposition that humans exclusively engage in, e.g. rational thought. Humans aren't snap shots, nothing is. We know the quiddity of something by the potentials exclusive to it. This is teleology, an aim beyond a being towards a determinate set of potentials.

ClassicalLiberal.Theist

  • Member
  • Posts: 29
    • View Profile
Re: Teleology in Nature
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2020, 05:30:50 pm »
@dominik

I think the fifth way probably works. I am not very well-read on the topic, but I have no objections to the sort of teleology used in that argument. My issue is with the contemporary notion of extrinisic teleology (like the ID movement's), not the thomist notion of intrinsic teleology.