Teleology
The study of the ultimate purpose of the design of something in nature. For examples, "what is the true purpose of the nose?" is a teleological question and, to say that all evolutionary changes occur for a definite purpose is a teleological explanation of evolution. "Teleology" comes from ancient Greek roots but it (and teleological) did not enter English until the 18th century. It is a compound of the Greek "tele-, telos," meaning "end or purpose" + the ending "logos" meaning "the science or study of" = the study of the ends or purposes.
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The philosophical doctrine according to which events, especially in biology, are explained in part by reference to final causes or end goals; the doctrine that goals or end states have a causal influence on present events and that the future as well as the past affect the present. [G. telos, end, + logos, study]

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te·le·ol·o·gy .tel-ē-'äl-ə-jē, .tēl- n, pl -gies
1 a) the study of evidences of design in nature
b) a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends are immanent in nature
c) a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes
2) the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose
3) the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena

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te·le·ol·o·gy (te″le-olґə-je) [teleo- + -logy] the doctrine of final causes, or of adaptation to a definite purpose.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Teleology — (Greek: telos : end, purpose) 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… …   Wikipedia

  • Teleology — • From Greek telos, end, and logos, science Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Teleology     Teleology     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Teleology — Te le*ol o*gy, n. [Gr. ?, teleos, the end or issue + logy: cf. F. t[ e]l[ e]ologie.] The doctrine of the final causes of things; specif. (Biol.), the doctrine of design, which assumes that the phenomena of organic life, particularly those of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • teleology — study of final causes, 1740, from Mod.L. teleologia, coined 1728 by German philosopher Baron Christian von Wolff (1679 1754) from Gk. teleos entire, perfect, complete, properly gen. of telos end, goal, result (see TELE (Cf. tele )), + logia (see… …   Etymology dictionary

  • teleology — [tē΄lē äl′ə jē, tel΄ēäl′ə jē] n. [ModL teleologia < Gr telos, teleos, an end (see TELO 1) + logia (see LOGY)] 1. the study of final causes 2. the fact or quality of being directed toward a definite end or of having an ultimate purpose, esp. as …   English World dictionary

  • teleology — teleological /tel ee euh loj i keuhl, tee lee /, teleologic, adj. teleologically, adv. teleologism, n. teleologist, n. /tel ee ol euh jee, tee lee /, n. Philos. 1. the doctrine that final causes exist. 2. the study …   Universalium

  • teleology — (Gk., telos, end) The study of the ends or purposes of things. The idea that there is such a thing as the end or purpose of life is prominent in the Aristotelian view of nature (and ethics), and then in the Christian tradition. The theory of… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • teleology — noun /ˈtɛl.iˌɒl.ə.dʒi/ a) The study of the purpose or design of natural occurrences. In short, what every student of biology knows – that within nature there is a teleology having to do with the survival of the species which underpins the… …   Wiktionary

  • teleology — noun Etymology: New Latin teleologia, from Greek tele , telos end, purpose + logia logy more at wheel Date: 1740 1. a. the study of evidences of design in nature b. a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends are immanent in nature c. a doctrine… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • teleology — n. [Gr. teleios, complete; logos, discourse] A theory in biology that evolution or nature is guided by a purpose …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

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