chapter  4
16 Pages

The Evolution of Reasons


How should we think about teleology and purpose in these post-Darwinian times? 1 Long ago, Karl Marx thought he knew what On the Origin of Species had accomplished:

It is here that, for the fi rst time, “teleology” in natural science is not only dealt a death blow but its rational meaning is empirically explained. (1861)

But a closer look shows that Marx is equivocating between two views that continue to be defended:

We should banish all teleological formulations from the natural sciences, or

now that we can “empirically explain” the “rational meaning” of natural phenomena without ancient ideology (of entelechies, Intelligent Creators and the like), we can replace old-fashioned, capital T “Teleology” with new, post-Darwinian teleology.