The Teleological Gaze: Part 1, Definitions

I've had a few stray thoughts that I want to try to gather here in some posts. I don't know if they will be coherent or add up to anything, but it's a thread I want to try to pull on.

Over the last year, various things I've read kept pointing out the vital role teleological metaphysics plays in many areas of life. It's made me wonder if one of the primary ways religious belief helps us is how it provides us with a teleological perspective and framework when thinking about life.

Since the words telos and teleological aren't commonplace, let's start off with some definitions and descriptions. 

The word telos comes from the Greek word telos, which literally means "end." A telos refers to an ultimate object, purpose, goal or aim, the end you are pursuing or heading toward.

The word teleological is mainly encountered in philosophical circles and it names how we consider things in light of their ultimate aims or purposes in contrast to their originating causes. When it comes to explanation, where causality looks backwards teleology looks forwards, toward a goal or purpose. Why, for example, do you exist? The causal explanation for your existence is very different from the teleological explanation, dumb and random physical antecedents versus purpose and your "reason" for being here. Causal stories and teleological stories are very, very different. As you can see in the contrast, looking at life teleologically imbues the world with mind, meaning, and purpose. This is the great contrast between religion and science, how the religious gaze is teleological and the scientific gaze is ateleological.

So, as we start, a series of reflections on how the teleological gaze--which may be the quintessence of religious belief--is necessity for a meaningful and flourishing life.

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