teleology

noun

tel·​e·​ol·​o·​gy ˌtē-lē-ˈä-lə-jē How to pronounce teleology (audio) ˌte- How to pronounce teleology (audio)
1
a
: the study of evidences of design in nature
b
: a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends are immanent in nature
c
: a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes
2
: the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose
3
: the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena

Examples of teleology in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the near future, Teresa is a middle-aged Massachusetts native without a career, a steady paycheck or a corporate teleology. Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times, 12 Dec. 2023 The modern era, the long twentieth century, offered a kind of teleology of progress, a line on a chart going upward and to the right. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 7 Dec. 2023 The common thread among all these thinkers: trying to explain the origins of order in the absence of teleology. Sean Carroll, Discover Magazine, 7 May 2011 Yet this approach itself reinforces a particular nationalist teleology. Fara Dabhoiwala, The New York Review of Books, 1 July 2021 The various models proposed for the mechanism of evolution, such as Lamarckian evolution, orthogenesis, and use-disuse, all implied some level of teleology, that there was a directionality inherent in the process. Mano Singham, Scientific American, 5 Sep. 2021 His early preoccupation with initial cosmic conditions led Barrow to reinstate in physical science the ancient philosophical concept of teleology, which (in its various guises) takes into account final as well as initial states. Paul Davies, Scientific American, 10 Oct. 2020 The Weberian analysis then offers no relief from that process, only a fatalism without a teleology. George Blaustein, The New Republic, 2 July 2020 Similarly, the transformative forward-thrust of time in Boyne’s narrative, which orders the novel’s very structure — each chapter break accounts for seven years in Cyril’s life — suggests a kind of progressive teleology. Manuel Betancourt, Longreads, 29 Mar. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'teleology.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

New Latin teleologia, from Greek tele-, telos end, purpose + -logia -logy — more at wheel

First Known Use

1742, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of teleology was in 1742

Dictionary Entries Near teleology

Cite this Entry

“Teleology.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/teleology. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Medical Definition

teleology

noun
te·​le·​ol·​o·​gy ˌtel-ē-ˈäl-ə-jē How to pronounce teleology (audio) ˌtēl- How to pronounce teleology (audio)
plural teleologies
1
a
: the study of evidences of design in nature
b
: a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends are immanent in nature
c
: a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes
2
: the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose
3
: the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena

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