(CARROLLTON, Texas – The Cradle of Civilization) – Thanks for stopping by, today we are having Earl Grey – one lump or two? Or perhaps you would prefer it bitter?
telos – a Greek word meaning end, purpose, or goal. The word teleology you may find defined as the study of design. But, that is not actually accurate, and why it is said so when it is not so requires some explanation.
The discussion of whether or not a rock, say, has an end or goal or purpose does not actually require a discussion of design. This is difficult for most to just agree with because we are products of our scientifical mind-set. And I wrote scientifical on purpose – as that is closer to an accurate description of the thinking going on. Perhaps the best way I can illustrate the difference is with two quotes from Wikipedia:
A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature.
Sadly, both of those statements suffer from not being what Aristotle, and particularly Aquinas, actually argued. And since that is not what was argued, it is pretty easy to disprove. How so? If I were to state that Euclid demonstrated that three and only three perfectly straight lines of finite length which meet at their ends, each line connecting to one of the other at one side and the remaining at the other, and that such a construction was always a square of four sides with four right angles – well, it would be easily disproved. Since Euclid never proposed such a thing, that fact that you can disprove the proposition that three lines always form a square is unremarkable. It’s actually irrelevant.
The problem with both those definitions is that they lend themselves to the idea that the universe is a kind of clockwork; but, particularly in the case of Aquinas, the case for God is not made by an argument from design, but rather is an argument from final causation. Lot’s of people want the idea of Final Cause to mean Design. But, strictly speaking, it simply doesn’t. Why it doesn’t has to do with many things, not the least of which is the distinction between when something is an artifact and when is it natural. Here’s a clue – the distinction has little to do with whether or not an item is man-made. Another issue is that Aquinas does not care, and does not try to prove, whether or not the Universe “began.” He’s more concerned about that fact that it “is”.
I shall have to end here as I am in a time crunch, and this is a blogathon post and must be posted before we get to midnight.
- Ancient Greek Philosophy (hoanhdao.wordpress.com)
- Does “purely natural and materialistic” imply “unguided and purposeless”? [Thoughts from Kansas] (scienceblogs.com)