Dear Cassino,

I think that your characterization of Aristotle's (and Pierce's) entelechy as a process is correct. I think an argument can be made that this is true of genuine teleology in general. Teleology seeks, in additional to material causes, evidence for an emergent vital force immanent in the process itself. It seeks internal final causes not external efficient causes. As vitalist Bergson writes in 1907, predetermined teleology, based on a definite end, "implies that things and beings merely realize a programme previously arranged … As in the mechanistic hypothesis, here again it is supposed that all is given. Finalism thus understood is only inverted mechanism."

Kant imagined that limiting principles, inherent in ongoing natural processes themselves, guided events. According to Alicia Juarrero, "Kant's emphasis on recursive causality, wherein the parts are both cause and effect, precludes the existence of a preexisting whole" (113). And as Ernst Cassirer explains, the Kantian whole is "contained in them [the parts] as a guiding principle." In Kant telos is emergent, given in the interactions between parts and the whole.


Victoria N. Alexander, Ph.D.
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On Jun 4, 2006, at 9:50 PM, Cassiano Terra Rodrigues wrote:

Hello list:

 It's been a long while I don't write, but the subject interests me.
I run the risk of repeating everything that was said here about entelechy, but a look up at the form of the word seems appropriate: entelechy in ancient greek is a form of saying (as literally as I can see) en telos echein, that is, something like "to have the end [aim?] in", "the obtaining of the end" (since the verb "echein" has a wide semantic range). In this sense, it is possible to think of it as a process rather than the final result of the process itself - if we think in analogy to the ultimate interpretant, it's perfectly fit: although the interpretant is called "ultimate", it's nonetheless still an interpretant, sign-process in sum. Now, the substantive "entelechia" seems to indicate exactly this, as I can see, in Aristotle: a process of attaining the end (telos), which should not as I see be defined as a definite outcome, final and not capable of being fowarded furthermore - because the idea of telos carries the notion of possible aim to be reached - the final cause is of the nature of a general desire, in Peirce's interpretation (which seems a very plausible way to read Aristotle's theory of the four causes - the formal cause being in the end the same as the final cause, the material cause the same as the efficient cause). So, entelechy would be a process of causation, the finalization of the  process of attainment a telos, or of fulfillment of the end, if I can say this in English. So, it continues to be a process, as I tend to read it; not the same as before, but still a process. I hope I'm understandable in this poor English of mine, and I also hope I'm not completely out of the discussion.
 All the best to all,
(from the Center for Studies on Pragmatism, Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC), Brasil).

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