The Catholic University of America

Final Causality in Nature and Human Affairs, edited by Richard F. Hassing.
Catholic University of America Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8132-0891-2.

Teleology -- the inquiry into the goals or goods at which nature, history, God, and human beings aim -- is among the most fundamental yet controversial themes in the history of philosophy. Are there ends in nonhuman nature? Does human history have a goal? Do humanly unintended events of great significance express some sort of purpose? Do human beings have ends prior to choice? The essays in this volume address the abiding questions of final causality. The chapters are arranged in historical order from Aristotle through Hegel to contemporary anthropic-principle cosmology.
Richard F. Hassing discusses Aristotle's founding of final causality in nature against the background of Socrates' "second sailing" away from natural science; the refutation of Aristotle's account of the heavens by the physics culminating in Newton; the defensibility of partial or regional teleologies of the Aristotelian type; Leo Strauss's understanding of the problem of modern natural science; chance and providence; the fate of formal and final causality in early modern philosophy and the concomitant rise of scientific laws of nature; and the relation between scientific and prescientific approaches to the human. William A. Wallace examines Aristotle's definition of nature in relation to extrinsic efficient and final causes, and the adequacy of Aristotle's account of nature to questions of ultimate efficient and final causes. Allan Gotthelf considers the meaning of teleological explanation in Aristotle's biology and reviews contemporary interpretations thereof, concluding with his own strong irreducibility thesis, which places Aristotle's natural teleology in a distinctive position that cannot be assimilated either to mechanism or to design. Francis Slade discusses the difference between natural ends and human purposes, and the implications of that difference for ethics and politics. Ernest L. Fortin explores the relation between medieval natural law and modern natural right in the political theory of liberal democracy. Richard L. Velkley examines Kant's endeavor to supply, on modern grounds, the defects of the modern project of self-determination and mastery of nature; the resulting status of fundamental contingencies in the Kantian philosophy; and the crucial significance of the Critique of Judgment in Kant's distinctive attempt to account for the unity of the human being in terms of ultimate contingencies. David A. White discusses Kant's understanding of organism, or natural purpose, in the Critique of Judgment, and how the concept of natural purpose regulates judgment. John W. Burbidge explores the logic of Hegel's teleology, "the cunning of reason," at work within end-less human history. John Leslie considers the argumentation for, predictive powers of, and fundamental alternatives to anthropic principles in contemporary cosmology. George Gale discusses the historical background and epistemological status of anthropic-principle cosmologies.

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