Teleology

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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. The word comes from the Greek τέλος - telos, root: τελε-, "end, purpose."

Teleology was explored by Plato and Aristotle, by Saint Anselm around 1000 AD, and later by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Judgment. It was fundamental to the speculative philosophy of Hegel.

A thing, process or action is teleological when it is for the sake of an end, i.e., a telos or final cause. In general it may be said that there are two types of final causes, which may be called intrinsic finality and extrinsic finality.[citation needed]

  • A thing or action has an extrinsic finality when it is for the sake of something external to itself. For example, Aristotle argued that animals are for the sake of man, a thing external to them.[1][2] Humans also exhibit extrinsic finality when they seek something external to themselves (e.g., the happiness of a child). If the external thing had not existed that action would not display finality.
  • A thing or action has an intrinsic finality when it is not for the sake of something external to itself. For example, one might try to be happy simply for the sake of being happy, and not for the sake of anything outside of that.

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