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Teleology is a philosophical idea that things have goals or causes. It is the "view that developments are due to the purpose or design which is served by them".[1]

An example would be Aristotle's view of nature, later adopted by the Catholic Church. The word "teleological" comes from the Ancient Greek telos, which means "end" or "purpose". A simpler example would be a tool such as the clock, which is designed by man to tell the time.

Whether or not an entity (man or god) is needed to cause teleology to happen is one of the most important questions. All cultures we know of have creation stories in their religions. However, much of science operates on the principle that the natural world is self-organising. This applies particularly to astronomy and biology, which were once explained as the action of a deity, and are now seen as natural and automatically self-organising.[2] Cybernetics is the basic science of self-organising systems.

The general issue of whether the original sense of teleology applies to the natural world is still a matter of controversy between religion and science.

References[change | change source]

  1. Oxford Shorter Dictionary.
  2. Quinton, Anthony 1977. Teleology. In Alan Bullock & Oliver Stallybrass (eds) The Fontana Dictionary of modern thought. Fontana, London. p626