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Teleology and Randomness in the Development of Natural Science Research: Systems, Ontology and Evolution

Teleology and Randomness in the Development of Natural Science Research: Systems, Ontology and Evolution

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This is an investigation about the subject of Teleology, which has been dealt with all along the history of the human thought with special emphasis on the interval related to the development of scientific theories referring to the study of Nature. The presentation of the subject starts with the conceptual definitions of Teleology. Following, this subject is revisited all along the concept’s historical application in the development of science. In this respect, the first approach is about teleology in Biology and life sciences with emphasis on the repercussion over the vitalist conception and natural selection. Hence, the discussion revolves around the dialectic conceptions of teleological systems and random systems. Finally, this paper finishes with a thought about how these themes may be pertinent within the environmental studies whereupon physical, biological and human systems are in co-operation, with the various applications of nuances and uses of the teleological concept.
This is an investigation about the subject of Teleology, which has been dealt with all along the history of the human thought with special emphasis on the interval related to the development of scientific theories referring to the study of Nature. The presentation of the subject starts with the conceptual definitions of Teleology. Following, this subject is revisited all along the concept’s historical application in the development of science. In this respect, the first approach is about teleology in Biology and life sciences with emphasis on the repercussion over the vitalist conception and natural selection. Hence, the discussion revolves around the dialectic conceptions of teleological systems and random systems. Finally, this paper finishes with a thought about how these themes may be pertinent within the environmental studies whereupon physical, biological and human systems are in co-operation, with the various applications of nuances and uses of the teleological concept.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Vitor Vieira Vasconcelos on Dec 17, 2012
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TELEOLOGY AND RANDOMNESS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF NATURAL SCIENCERESEARCH: SYSTEMS, ONTOLOGY AND EVOLUTIONPaulo Pereira Martins Junior Vitor Vieira Vasconcelos
1 – PhD. Geologist. Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP), Brazil. Foundation Technological Center of Minas Gerais (CETEC-MG), Minas Gerais State, Brazil.2 – Legislative Consultant of Environment and Sustainable Management at the Legislative Power of 
MinasGerais
State, Brazil. PhD. student in Geology. Master of Arts in Geography. Specialist in Soil andEnvironment. Bachelor in Philosophy. Environmental Technician. Computer Science Technician.
Paper originally published in Portuguese, at:
MARTINS JUNIOR, P.P.; VASCONCELOS, Vitor Vieira. Teleologia e Aleatoriedade no Estudo dasCiências da Natureza: sistemas, ontologia e evolução.
Interthesis
, v. 8, n. 2, p. 316-334, jul/dec.2011. Available at:http://www.periodicos.ufsc.br/index.php/interthesis/article/view/1807-1384.2011v8n2p316/20579
Translation by Harriet Reis, in november, 2012
 
TELEOLOGY AND RANDOMNESS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF NATURAL SCIENCERESEARCH: SYSTEMS, ONTOLOGY AND EVOLUTIONA TELEOLOGIA E A ALEATORIEDADE NO ESTUDO DAS CIÊNCIAS DA NATUREZA:SISTEMAS, ONTOLOGIA E EVOLUÇÃOTELEOLOGÍA Y ALEATORIEDAD EN LA INVESTIGACIÓN DE LAS CIENCIAS DE LANATURALEZA: SISTEMAS, ONTOLOGÍA Y EVOLUCIÓNSummary:
This is an investigation about the subject of Teleology, which has beendealt with all along the history of the human thought with special emphasis on the intervalrelated to the development of scientific theories referring to the study of Nature. Thepresentation of the subject starts with the conceptual definitions of Teleology. Following,this subject is revisited all along the concept’s historical application in the development of science. In this respect, the first approach is about teleology in Biology and life scienceswith emphasis on the repercussion over the vitalist conception and natural selection.Hence, the discussion revolves around the dialectic conceptions of teleological systemsand random systems. Finally, this paper finishes with a thought about how these themesmay be pertinent within the environmental studies whereupon physical, biological andhuman systems are in co-operation, with the various applications of nuances and uses of the teleological concept.
Keywords:
Teleology. Biology. Science. Epistemology. Environment
Resumo:
Propõe-se uma investigação sobre a temática da
Teleologia
, comotratada no decorrer da história do pensamento humano, e com especial enfoque nointercurso relacionado ao desenvolvimento das teorias científicas referentes ao estudo daNatureza. A apresentação do tema começa com definições conceituais sobre teleologia.Em seguida é revisitado o caminho histórico trilhado pelo conceito de teleologia nodesenvolvimento científico. Em um primeiro tópico, será tratada a questão da teleologianas ciências biológicas e da vida, com ênfase na repercussão das teorias vitalistas eseleção natural. Em seguida, é contraposta a concepção dialética de sistemasteleológicos e sistemas aleatórios. Finda-se o artigo com uma reflexão sobre como ostemas tratados são pertinentes dentro do área de estudos das ciências ambientais, ondesão conjugados sistemas físicos, biológicos e humanos, com as diversas nuances eutilizações de conceitos teleológicos.
Palavras-chave:
Teleologia. Biologia. Ciência. Epistemologia. Meio Ambiente
Resumen:
Propone-se una investigación sobre la temática de la teleología en elcurso de la historia del pensamiento humano, con especial atención a las relaciones conel desarrollo de las teorías científicas sobre el estudio de la naturaleza. La presentacióndel tema comienza con las definiciones conceptuales de la teleología. A continuación, seretoma el camino histórico recorrido por el concepto de teleología en el desarrollocientífico. En un primer tema se aborda los asuntos sobre la teleología en las cienciasbiológicas y de la vida, especialmente en el impacto de las teorías vitalistas y la selección
 
natural. Luego, se contrasta la dialéctica de los sistemas teleológicos y de los sistemas dealeatoriedad. El artículo finaliza con una reflexión sobre cómo las cuestiones planteadasson pertinentes en el área de estudios de ciencias ambientales, donde se unen sistemassicos, biológicos y humanos, con los diversos matices y usos de los conceptosteleológicos.
Palabras claves
: Teleología. Biología. Ciencia. Epistemología. Ambiente.
1. Introduction – The Teleology Notion
Teleology is derived from two Greek words:
telos
(end, goal, purpose) and
logos
(reason, explanation). Teleology, therefore, is a reason or explanation for something infunction of its end, purpose or goal (VILLA, 2000, p. 723). In synthesis, the concept or ideas of teleology can be defined as a “Doctrine that considers the world as a system of relationships between means and ends” (FERREIRA, 1986, p. 1658).Before starting the historical considerations, it is worthy to observe that theteleology concept can be applied as much in the field of rational cognitive processes as innatural processes and these two situations do not necessarily converge for a clear understanding of the issues. On the other hand, the thought, that is necessarily finalistic,can serve to understand aspects of the real world that are not finalistic.Ernst Mayr pointed out that the concept of teleology, in the history of philosophy andthe sciences, is used in various contexts, referring to several structurally differentphenomena (MAYR, 2005, p. 65-82). The history of the use of the teleological concept isfundamental for a better understanding of the significance attributed to this concept, andthis article aims to demonstrate this. Within the processes and phenomena to which theconcept of teleology is traditionally applied, Mayr points out the following:
 A)Teleomatism
: relates to the perception that certain characteristics of aphenomenon, system, or process under study presents a tendency to develop towards afinal state. That is, when given a pre-determined initial state, it would seem valid to infer that it would necessarily follow its determined path until the end.
B)Selective characteristics:
occur in situations in which various objects (such ascomplex systems) are randomly produced, having different characteristics andorganizations among themselves, and that due to ambient constraints, only a limitednumber of them manage to survive after a time.
 
In this case, it is common to respond,when asked why some characteristics of the object exist, that it has or had a function that

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