Friday, December 16, 2022

Panteleology: A few preliminary notes

Panteleology holds that teleology is ubiquitous. Every substance aims at
some end.

The main objection to panteleology is the same as that to panpsychism: the incredulous stare. I think a part of the puzzlement comes from the thought that things that are neither biological nor artifactual “just do what they do”, and there is no such thing as failure. But this seems to me to be a mistake. Imagine a miracle where a rock fails to fall down, despite being unsupported and in a gravitational field. It seems very natural to say that in that case the rock failed to do what rocks should do! So it may be that away from the biological realm (namely organisms and stuff made by organisms) failure takes a miracle, but the logical possibility of such a miracle makes it not implausible to think that there really is a directedness.

That said, I think the quantum realm provides room for saying that things don’t “just do what they do”. If an electron is in a mixed spin up/down state, it seems right to think about it as having a directedness at a pure spin-up state and a directedness at a pure spin-down state, and only one of these directednesses will succeed.

Panteleology seems to be exactly what we would expect in a world created by God. Everything should glorify God.

Panteleology is also entailed by a panpsychism that follows Leibniz in including the ubiquity of “appetitions” and not just perceptions. And it seems to me that if we think through the kinds of reasons people have for panpsychism, these reasons extend to appetitions—just as a discontinuity in perception is mysterious, a discontinuity in action-driving is mysterious.


Wesley C said...

Couldn't one relate teleology to causal powers and the possible effects they could accomplish? Final causality exists as long as anything has a causal power TOWARDS anything, and this directedness of power - without needing to be active even - is itself a real example of teleology.

For any agent that has the power to cause any effect in any way, it must be directed towards that end at least insofar as any POWER only makes coherent sense insofar as it has an EFFECT which it includes within itself and thereby points.

Daryl said...

I think many theists would admit that God has created every substance for a purpose, but that'd be an extrinsic teleology, and would be less controversial. You've said elsewhere that you think that every substance has a teleology. Are you meaning to argue that every substance has intrinsic teleology? That'd be more controversial.