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Can Aristotles teleology be naturalized?

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  • Can Aristotles teleology be naturalized?

    I was rereading some of Fesers posts and reading "Aquinas", when I thought again about Kennys review of "The Last Superstition". He objected to Ed using the Aquinian fifth way that teleology would have to terminate in God, while Aristotle merely thought that the teleology in question was just natural to the objects itself and didn´t need any reference to the Unmoved Mover. Now, several Aristotelians objected to that interpretation and claim that Aristotle indeed did assume teleology to exist only in reference to God, but this should not be the topic here.
    My question is, can we take Aristotles teleology without making references to God ultimately?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Kwlsk View Post
    I was rereading some of Fesers posts and reading "Aquinas", when I thought again about Kennys review of "The Last Superstition". He objected to Ed using the Aquinian fifth way that teleology would have to terminate in God, while Aristotle merely thought that the teleology in question was just natural to the objects itself and didn´t need any reference to the Unmoved Mover. Now, several Aristotelians objected to that interpretation and claim that Aristotle indeed did assume teleology to exist only in reference to God, but this should not be the topic here.
    My question is, can we take Aristotles teleology without making references to God ultimately?
    From what I understand the Thomist would argue that by virtue of the prime mover being the source of actuality with regards to existence, He is also the source of each being actually possessing their forms and final ends. But we can discuss teleology without reference to a prime mover. I don't need to bottom-out every teleoglical analysis with God, in the same way that I don't need to make reference to God when discussing the material or formal causes of a being.

    Can we ultimately have a naturalized teleoglical metaphysics without God a la Nagel? Not on a Thomistic metaphysics. Teleology would be immanent yet brute.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by RomanJoe View Post
      Can we ultimately have a naturalized teleoglical metaphysics without God a la Nagel? Not on a Thomistic metaphysics.
      Well yeah of course, but when arguing with a skeptic this would be question-begging. The analysis has to be formulated backwards. Does the reality of teleology lead to something like Thomism? Or better formulated: Does the reality of teleology offer a way for the skeptic to avoid a prime mover, without having to bring in brute facts?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Kwlsk View Post

        Well yeah of course, but when arguing with a skeptic this would be question-begging. The analysis has to be formulated backwards. Does the reality of teleology lead to something like Thomism? Or better formulated: Does the reality of teleology offer a way for the skeptic to avoid a prime mover, without having to bring in brute facts?
        Teleology requires that final causes be efficacious principles of being--that they be potentials to be actualized. This is inseparable from Aristotelian motion. A final cause is the natural potential of a being. And in order for there to be motion at all we need a prime mover. Teleology just seems so interwoven into AT metaphysics that it will always collapse back into a theistic model unless someone is willing to forego cosmic intelligibility and posit brute facts.

        I don't think there is some safe intelligible alternative to teleology that avoids a First Cause. Are we to ground teleology in the natural order, making it an immanent principle that governs the natural world? Well then there's the question of how it governs the natural world, how the unactualized is actualized, why final causes demarcate the natural order in the first place.

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        • #5
          Thanks Joe. That was what I was looking for.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Kwlsk View Post
            Thanks Joe. That was what I was looking for.
            Glad to help!

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