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Aristotle on Teleology - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Aristotle on Teleology

Monte Ransome Johnson


Aristotle is commonly considered the inventor of teleology, although the precise term originated in the eighteenth century. But if teleology means the use of ends or goals in natural science, then Aristotle was rather a critical innovator of teleological explanation. Teleological notions were widespread among Aristotle’s predecessors, but he rejected their conception of extrinsic causes such as intelligence or god as the primary cause for natural things. Instead, he considers nature itself as an internal principle of change and as an end, and his teleological explanations focus on what is intr ... More

Keywords: Plato, Aristotle, science, method, causality, explanation, materialism, mechanism, teleololgy, anthropocentrism

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2005 Print ISBN-13: 9780199285303
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006 DOI:10.1093/0199285306.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Monte Ransome Johnson, author
Saint Louis University, Missouri