- 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.
* * *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]
* * *1 a) the study of evidences of design in natureb) a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends are immanent in naturec) a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes2) the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose3) the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena
* * *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.