[“tee lee,” or “tell lee”]
def.: the explanation of things by the purpose they serve, or may serve, rather than the real, or “guessed -at,” causes behind these things.
[For more use the DOOR.]
Sometimes special words are useful in understanding time. “Teleology” is one.
The definition you just read is a philosophical one, worked over a bit by adozenseconds.com. We all know that things exist and happen because of things that came earlier–whether we can identify those earlier things or not, and people sometimes get all excited about trying to find out what the exact causes, especially physical ones, are.* We’re not going there–at least not soon. Instead, we will look at things which “are” that we can pretty much agree on, or things that “will” or “could be.” Teleology mainly concerns that sort of thing.
There’s also a religious use of “teleology.” Sometimes it is used to refer to “the doctrine of design and purpose ** in the material world.” (That’s the OED *** 2nd definition.)
Finally, the OED reminds us that the origin of the word is “mid 18th century (denoting the branch of philosophy that deals with ends or final cause).
That’s enough for now.
Sometimes we obsess about the past, neglecting the present–and the future. “Teleology” sometimes can be a useful word in describing what happens today and later on.
* Finding the effects of certain electrical activity in certain parts of the brain, and what caused that activity to happen in the first place, has–so far–identified some physically caused behaviors and tendencies, but neuroscience has shown little about the special individual mental patterns that make us what we are, show us what we think about, what we do, and why.
** Be aware that materialists and naturalists have little use for “teleology” (or “purpose”) because they believe the process of evolution has no purpose other than the drive of living things to stay alive and reproduce.
*** OED is a standard abbreviation for the Oxford English Dictionary. I’m using the Kindle version here.