Re: [ox-en] Teleology WAS Some thoughts upon the GPL society
- From: Adam Moran <adam diamat.org.uk>
- Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 02:11:09 +0000
19-01-04 Stefan Merten wrote:
Biology can say nothing about human societies. Human societies are not
natural (= biological) but cultural (= social).
In particular I'd say there is no such thing like creativity in
nature. Evolution for instance is not a creative process in any useful
sense of the word I can think of. Evolution is a blind random process
and it makes sense only if you look at it in a teleological manner -
which is of course a grave mistake.
Teleology is sometimes thought of as a theory that makes sense of the
world as the artifact of a God or Guiding Intelligence and each thing in
the world as existing and behaving in the way that it does as a
fulfillment of *His* purpose.
That is not the theory of teleology adopted in my mumble-ings. Here it
is a theory about how the real nature (essence) of a whole entity is to
be identified; how its development from immature, to mature (*telos*)
and declining forms is to be explained; how its characteristic behavior
(*ergon*) is to be explained in a law-like fashion. (law as in a law of
A whole entity can be anything from an amoeba to a form of human
society, or an astronomical system.
Telos : The form, state or condition towards which an entity develops by
its nature, unless its development is interrupted (either by external
accident, or, in the case of a nature which contains a constitutive
contradiction, by the way in which that contradiction develops). The
*telos* is the final form attained in an entity's process of development.
Ergon : Usually translated as 'function', which is not quite adequate.
The Greek word means literally 'work'. It conveys the idea of the
typical behavior of a kind of thing: behavior of a kind that expresses
the essence of a kind of thing: behavior of a kind that expresses the
essence of the kind of thing it is. It is closely associated with a
thing's end, aim or *telos*.
Essence: A specification of the essence of an entity specifies those
characteristics that make it the kind of thing it is (or the very thing
it is) and without which it could not exist or be what it is. The
essence of an entity is not something lying around on the surface which
simply has to be apprehended, nor can it be got from a dictionary
definition. It has to be discovered by means of observation,
investigation and analysis of facts. For example water is a compound of
both hydrogen and oxygen. We did not always know this; we discovered it.
It was part of the essence of water before we knew it to be so, and
would still have been part of that essence even if there had never
existed any intelligent creatures like humans to discover it. Other
entities, such as forms of human society, also have essences which have
to be discovered.