The issue of teleology is confounding to darwinists, but it is likely to prove confounding to its own proponents, for example, the ID group and the Discovery Institute. Teleology is going to enter into a theological subtext, as usual, for the conservative perspective.
Although critical of darwinism and boycotted by its dogmatic orgs, I would suggest to conventional scientists a look at the eonic effect as a self-defense against the religious rights stealth mode.
The eonic effect shows something that religious attempts to reintroduce ‘teleology’ should also examine, but they will not do that because the challenge to the judeo-christian legacy suddenly appears out of nowhere: the religious perspective in any case has theistic views in the background.
Looking at the eonic effect it is clear that monotheistic religion was an aspect of historical directionality in the Axial Age, which is a limited version of the eonic effect, and this gave it a sense of historical entitlement. But with the rise of modernity religion as christianity was challenged, first in the Reformation and then with the secular sphere and these themselves now speak with a kind of historical entitlement (even as they fail to perceive the eonic factor). It is a distressing situation for religious conservatives, and they wish to summon teleological thinking in an antimodernist challenge. It won’t work.
We must note at once that teleology can show multiple tracks in parallel and that ‘monotheism’ appears in parallel with buddhism in a remarkable synchrony along with the other factors of the ‘Axial Age’ in Greece, India, China, and elsewhere. Thus the teleological or directional aspect of religion has nothing to do as such with theism/monotheism: it seems to explore multiple potentials in a multitasking mode. Teleology in a multitasking mode, is a perfect example of the complexification of naive ideas of the idea (which should better be limited to ‘directionality’). Note the title of our other blog: ‘the end(s) of history’, as if history has multiple teleologies in a larger one. There are many examples: it your telos is to finish high school, then your goal at each point is to finish each of twelve grades in succession.
It is good to stand back and try to look at world history in its full complexity with a view to using the eonic model as a guide to, first, directional, and then cautiously possible teleological potentials and definitions. Directionality is all we can actually detect but our eonic directionality can show sub-teleology inside its epoch intervals. It is relatively easy to find directionality, but the passage to teleology is not as ‘simple’ because we are immersed in the system in question and can’t see its ‘endpoint’ or teleological target which might lie in the future.We can try to guess based on limited data looking at what something is doing: we might consider the ‘telos’ of the evolutionary construct civilization as one such guess.
And the question of our free agency arises. And the teleological, or directional factor is very tricky. As an example we can cite the eonic effect in terms of one interpretation, high level and almost vague: the evolution of freedom, a very complex and confusing idea because it breaks out of the standard causal mode (as does teleology). In any case, the ‘evolution of freedom’ will cause analytical paradox, and will be different from the closed ‘target’ mode of the usual idea of teleology. A teleological system that ‘evolves freedom’ will finally have to come to an end so that the outcome will be free individuals, a teleological system that lets go of its control. Many other such issues arise. We suspect, but can’t be sure, such an effect is visible in the wake of the modern transition, but we cannot be quite sure. We should stop here, and caution against the distorting factor of religious traditionalism in the study of teleology.
As far as the German interest here goes, we have seen how both Kant’s challenge, and the history of the teleomechanists shows the very early orientation of German thought to teleological questions.
Finally, we mention in passing one of the most tricky aspects of teleology and the eonic effect: how does directionality express itself on the surface of the planet. How integrate over such a surface, etc…We have already shown an answer: a single track on the surface wouldn’t work if the teleological endpoint is globalizing planetary unity: just as with the Axial Age our single track must split into multiple parallel tracks to cover both a larger surface and a larger bouquet of diversity.
Let us point to the many materials on the eonic model and leave it at all for the moment.