Not Dead Yet: Teleology and the Scientific Revolution


McDonough, Jeffrey K. “Not Dead Yet: Teleology and the Scientific Revolution.” In Teleology: A History, 150-179. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.
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It is often maintained that teleology was undermined in the early modern era by the Scientific Revolution. Hoping to correct this misperception, this essay looks at three areas in which teleology was upheld and developed by three pioneers of early modern science. The first main section argues that teleological reasoning is woven into the very fabric of William Harvey’s revolutionary work in biology. The second main section takes up Robert Boyle’s explicit and systematic defense of teleology and especially his effort to reconcile the methods and views of the new science with a deep-seated commitment to divine teleology. Finally, the last main section explores Pierre Maupertuis’s bold attempt to find a place for teleology in the heart of modern, mathematical physics.

Last updated on 12/20/2020