Teleology and Life. Nagel’s Conception about the Meaning of the Teleological Terms in Biology Cover Image
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Телеология и Живот. Концепцията на Нагел за смисъла на телеологичните термини в биологията
Teleology and Life. Nagel’s Conception about the Meaning of the Teleological Terms in Biology

Author(s): Anna Ivanova
Subject(s): Philosophy
Published by: Институтът по философия и социология при БАН
Keywords: teleology; determinism; living; nonliving; biology; organism; process; causality; end-directedness; representation; model; criterion; method

Summary/Abstract: The teleological directedness of vital processes is a widely accepted and yet controversial feature of the living form, a feature that has served for long as a dividing line between living and nonliving. In order to preserve the autonomy of its subject from the conceptual expansion of physics and chemistry, contemporary biology is facing the necessity of complete theoretical explication of what it means for a thing to be end-directed. Despite the reductionist attempts, due to the achievements of microbiology, there are some biologists as well as philosophers of biology, who consider teleological language indispensable in researches of the living form. A supporter of this claim, Ernest Nagel is offering in his John Dewey Lectures at Columbia University a formal criterion for a process to be regarded as teleological. His model of a teleological system, based on Sommerhoff”s orthogonality of correlated variables has a great significance in outlining the very distinctive features of teleological interactions. This paper is intended to demonstrate the pluses and minuses of such an account – to point out its applications and to draw attention to its incompleteness in regard to the variety of teleologically described phenomena. Finally the article outlines the main difficulties that stand against the behaviorist approach and offers another path to solving the problem.

  • Issue Year: XVI/2007
  • Issue No: 6
  • Page Range: 35-40
  • Page Count: 6
  • Language: Bulgarian