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Teleology

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Shai Gar, Mar 17, 2009.

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  1. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    Teleology is the philosophical study of design and purpose. A teleological school of thought is one that holds all things to be designed for or directed toward a final result, that there is an inherent purpose or final cause for all that exists.
    As a school of thought it can be contrasted with metaphysical naturalism, which views nature as having no design or purpose. Teleology would say that a person has eyes because he has the need of eyesight (form following function), while naturalism would say that a person has sight because he has eyes (function following form).

    Most theology presupposes a teleology: design in nature can be used as a teleological argument for the existence of God.

    An example of such an argument is the Watch in the Desert analogy....

    "OK, so if you found a watch lying in the desert, would you assume that it "spontaneously assembled" itself from the desert sand and rocks? Of course not! You would assume that it was made, or created, by a skilled watchmaker, and dropped there by him or someone else. The watch was clearly designed for a very specific purpose, by someone with great expertise, who knew exactly what he wanted ahead of time. Therefore, when we find something as perfectly designed as a living animal, it is utterly foolish to assume that it "spontaneously assembled itself" either. It had to be designed, in all its perfection, by some Great Designer. The mere existence of well-designed watches and animals is all the proof we should need that both were created by someone with infinitely more wisdom than the creations. Both, by their existence alone, imply the existence of a great designer or creator. Watches don't "just evolve," and neither do animals (or people); ergo, evolution is logically absurd."

    So what are your thoughts on Teleology?
     
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    Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    Personally, I think that metaphor is an insult to Silicon Based Life Forms and their Evolutionary History.
     
  3. TenorKite

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    A watch is a rather useless construct in itself.

    To clarify: What reason does a watch have to exist other than to be used? How would you feel if you were created to be and only to be used?
     
    #3 TenorKite, Mar 17, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2009
  4. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    I have great disdain for the philosophy. I think it leads people to reject reality for false beliefs. Whenever someone assumes that there is an inherent purpose to something they observe in nature, they are putting the wagon in front of the horse.

    Medicine was stagnant for centuries because people just accepted the Four Humors philosophy that was put forth by Hippocrates. Hippocrates observed a natural phenomenon, four fluids which were common in all humans, and he argued that each served a purpose in humans, and all ailments were the result of an imbalance of these four fluids. He made a naturalistic observation of the human body when he noticed these four fluids, but then he made a teleological argument by defining their purposes without sufficient knowledge of what roles they actually played in the human body.

    Then when physicians actually started doing dissections of cadavers centuries later and started making observations, such as noticing the complex organ systems of human beings, and the development of the microscopes allowed scientists to see microscopic pathogens; these men of science were able to begin making arguments of functions based on their observations of the structure of the human body. But they were met with great resistance because the Four Humors philosophy was what was traditionally accepted and it just made such logical sense. Doctors were pitted against other doctors because some simply refused to accept the new knowledge that was observed in reality. When the the doctors who embraced the Four Humors philosophy were faced with indisputable evidence against what they believed, they just kept going back and retuning their philosophy to adapt for whatever they could no longer deny.

    Fortunately, doctors today embrace physiology which is an understanding of the functions of the human body as derived from the study of anatomy, or the structure (form) of the human body. They no longer put their faith in a study which argues the functions of four fluids in the body while ignoring the complex structures that make up the body.
     
    #4 Satya, Mar 17, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2009
  5. the

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    What kind of Great Designer would leave a watch in the desert?
     
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  6. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    :m131:

    Sensor logic is sweet.

    It certainly makes me wonder what kind of Great Designer would create only one planet with life in a vast universe.

    It is certainly hard to believe either Great Designer holds much value for their work.
     
  7. Wyote

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    This is all very linear thinking, and God is supposed to transcend such concepts, am I right? A "designer" makes absolutely no sense within a linear thought process.

    Consider God as an intrinsic part of everything, folding into everything like a Mandelbrot set. A watch's purpose is defined by it's existence, it's existence gives birth to its purpose.
     
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  8. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    If God is everything, then he is redundant? There's about as much point worshipping him as there is worshipping a coffee mug.
     
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  9. TenorKite

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    I see no problem with worshiping a coffee mug. It does bring you your coffee.
     
  10. Wyote

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    Worship was created for church establishments to make a profit and have control =)

    It's not about worship, it's about connectivity, awareness, love ect.

    Ever notice how the more a person worships their god(s) the crazier they seem?
     
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    #10 Wyote, Mar 22, 2009
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  11. TenorKite

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    Well, I wasn't using the term literally. Worshiping a coffee mug as the be all and end all is a little much, but you can be thankful for what it does.
     
  12. Satya

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    Isn't that just a convenient excuse? Once a person makes the argument that a Grand Designer isn't exactly logical, then someone usually makes the argument that the Grand Designer must be above human logic.

    Isn't that pantheism?

    That is teleology. Humans created a watch to serve a certain purpose. If it didn't serve that purpose then it wouldn't be a watch. Is the argument that because humans have an inherent need to assign purpose to their creations then there must be a Grand Designer who created humans to serve a certain purpose? That is logically absurd.
     
    #12 Satya, Mar 22, 2009
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  13. Wyote

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    I did not once state that it was "above human logic" and in fact I went so far as to give an understandable, logical explanation. You can call it pantheism, and you'd be correct. Pantheism is at the root of most religions and when pressed, people tend to lean in a pantheistic direction.

    The argument I was attempting to make is that, everything being intertwined with itself has purpose, and that purpose is merely its existence. Assigning it a purpose or labeling it's purpose is part of its existence, and thus part of its purpose.
     
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  14. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    Existence = purpose? That's quite loose use of the word purpose, a roc exists, does that mean it has purpose?
     
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  15. TenorKite

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    Why can't a rock have it's own purpose? I dare you to pick a fight with this one.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    We can give a rock a purpose, but the purpose comes from us, it is not inherent in the rock.
     
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  17. Satya

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    Teleology versus Naturalism

    Design versus Random

    Purpose versus Chance

    I think this is what Taoist would call a living paradox.

    For example, Form versus Function.

    Is a clay vase a vase because of the clay that makes up its structure or the space within the clay? If the vase had no space within it then it would only be a brick of clay and it would serve no function, but if the vase had no clay then it would only be a void and it would have no form.

    In essence, there cannot be form without function and there cannot be function without form.

    Maybe there cannot be purpose without chance and there cannot be chance without purpose. And maybe there cannot be design without randomness and there cannot be randomness without design. And finally maybe there cannot be teleology without naturalism and there cannot be naturalism without teleology.

    One cannot exist without the other because that is how these ideas have been defined. It ultimately comes down to language.

    It makes me wonder if God is simply the transmission of information.

    In the simplest sense it makes perfect sense, i.e. genetics, holy scriptures, and even things like the inflection and nonverbal communication between people all accumulated are the "Grand Designer". God is the interaction and communication between all things in the universe. He is design and randomness. He is purpose and chance. He is motion and work. He is the very definition of energy and he is everywhere.

    What a fascinating possibility.
     
  18. TenorKite

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    Everything has some degree of life. Energy is what animates us, but matter and energy are the same. Some things are just more energetic than others.

    The Sun is the most alive thing in our galaxy. The Earth benefits from this. We, in turn, benefit from the Earth. Unlike the rock though, we're energy sinks. We may be highly mobile and strong willed, but it requires that we take energy from others. This doesn't quite apply to the Earth since the sun gives it's energy freely.

    If the Sun is a giver, then the rock is a giver as well. It gives in the form of nutrients to plants. Just as the sun gives pure energy to the plants. Remember, both are energy just in different forms.

    This works socially too. Some people are highly energetic and inspire others. Some people sap energy.

    I just ended up giving the rock a very indirect anthropocentric purpose by describing it in a mechanical fashion, ie how a collection of parts effect each other. But there are no parts, only centers with very blurred edges. It's a limitation of our noun oriented language.
     
  19. Satya

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    Duh. I kind of explained that when I got to the part where I said it all comes down to language.

    It would be a brick of clay. Of course it would serve a different function. The point is that it would no longer be a vase.

    Are you trying to be condescending? :m075:

    We wouldn't know.

    I was considering a pantheistic interpretation of God. Are you drunk?
     
  20. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    "Purpose" to me, implies a predetermined goal.
     
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