Teleologist What it all comes down to... either one believes in this or one doesn't.

I use 'teleology' in only a loose sense, perhaps as in emergence. Are various means (i.e. physics) occuring so as to bring about various ends (i.e. our existence)?

Obviously nihilists and some physics-minded individuals are inclined towards an ateleological position whereby existence itself is a quirk, a mere incident born of a few simple forces acting upon raw energy.

Others, especially monotheists, claim that some sort of deity has some sort of "end" in mind, and these forces (i.e. physics) were put into action so as to bring about various events. I am not posing so specific a teleologue as that; rather, I am trying to observe the underlying principle of... of... the only word I know near to the idea I am thinking of is "teleology".

Whether one believes in this idea or not seems to me a fundamental element of someone's "existential" view. This whole ridiculous flame war about whether or not there is a God, whether or not the universe is merely a fluke (et cetera), seems really a question of one's belief, yes Belief, in teleology.

If one believes in teleology, no amount of physical evidence will ever begin to disprove teleology. And if one does not believe in teleology, no amount of evidence will ever surface for it.

Thus, neither camp can ever claim a 'true' victory... they can only exterminate the supporters of the other position, but the question of teleology, whether it be asked or not, will always remain.

It is an incalculable question. There can be no definite answer regardless of if one is a human, an atom, or a galactic supercluster. If there is something outside/beyond this physical realm, perhaps from there one can get a clear view on the question... or perhaps not. Perhaps it is a nearly eternal question.

So, why bother with the question, if it is so utterly unresolvable? Well, how one answers it has immediate implications for how one lives one's life, does it not?

Granted, those who are teleological in their ontologies will vary endlessly as to how they account for it, some opting for a monotheistic view, others for something more chaotic or perhaps something more infinitely varying. Likewise, those who are not teleological in their ontologies will still vary greatly in their personal ontology as a whole; not being a teleologist does not necessarily mean one is a nihilist, and so forth. I suppose by some wierd twists there could be a nihilist who was teleologically inclined... I cannot be expected to have thought of every possibility!

Personally, I was once very ateleological and prone to nihilism (again, I am not trying to equate the two), and during that era of my life I made many choices with negative ramifications; I stymied much of my own growth because of my ontology at that time. Now I have changed, and I am more content, and feel better all around, and much of it has to do with my belief system having become quite genuinely teleological (in a way totally unconnected with any major religion or philosophy) though I shant elaborate beyond that since it is not relevant here. To forgo teleology would forgo much of the reasoning as to how I live my life now, which is (for me) of a superior quality to that from the ateleological phase.

However, for another person, the reverse might be true. Perhaps teleological thinking had the same effect upon them as the reverse did on me, and the disintegration of teleological ontology has resulted in a superior quality of life for them. It seems quite probable that this has been true for many people. I'm not about to try and dissuade someone from a personal change for the better, especially over a matter so personal as one's ontology.

The reason I blathe this is because I feel as if both theists and atheists alike could get along much better if we all just admitted that none of us are certain, and there is equal validity in living either way. It is a question for which we will never know the solution, but it is also a question we all must answer for ourselves.

As a final note, there are surely many gradations between full-on teleologists and total ateleologists. I, as mentioned, am a teleologist. What about you?
. Depends on my mood. 070302
who cares i don't care 070308
Cibomatto: A horse's ass is bigger than yours! 070308
z faith is wishing 090303
paz y luz not so at all. i wish for a unicorn; i have faith that my amassed intellect is sufficient to determine there are no unicorns to be had. i wish to play the piano harmoniously; i have faith that the efforts i put into practicing will result in greater skill at the piano. you operate with unexamined assumptions: the resemblence between wishing and faith is merely superficial; further examinination reveals considerable differences. 090624
z you are correct, of course. i was using faith in the narrow, spiritual, epistemological sense. also as any belief not based on proof. i did not mean confidence, trust, presumption or fidelity. i assumed that the context, teleology, would suggest the usage, and further, that i would be read as such. i stand corrected on the basis of broader usage, but my thesis stands. (religious, spiritual or epistemological) faith is wishing (willful belief in the unproven based on hope, revealed truth or unexamined assumptions). thank you for challenging my precision. 090624
paz y luz i'm not saying i haven't witnessed the wishful faiths of others, but i know better than to monomaniacally categorize such a subjective word. faith is many things to many people. it is not always "willful belief" (perhaps for some). sometimes faith is retained in spite of oneself, in spite of what one would rather believe. clearly to you, the logical conclusion of an examination of the world you inhabit is one of spiritual skepticism. yet for others it is the reverse. the more one explores what can hitherto be seen of existence, the more one's faith (in whatever) is reinforced. the conclusion drawn from all known facts is one of affirmation. there is nothing wishful about it.

the conflict arising from contrasting religions is not necessarly evidence of anything; that divergent ontologies might stem from a shared source is no more surprising than the differing and idiosyncratic reactions of partygoers to a shared party. thus differences of faith are not necessary negations of a similar source.

perhaps you have never experienced a transcendent faith. that is fine, but why then try to speak of it? if you are merely sharing your observer-side-only opinion of it, why arrogate yourself with issuances of diminutive assessments?
z paz y luz:

with respect, please accept a correction: i am not skeptical, rather, i accept as a premise no principle that requires belief in something, be it phenomena or an object, which is undemonstrable. i do not doubt what i have no evidence for because, until i encounter some observation, or causal inference that indicates that there is an ontological reason for a thing's existence, then i am operationally certain that it does not exist. can i prove that it does not? of course not. can you prove that the universe did not spring from the whimsy of a short-lived ant occupying the lack of space which existed before creation? of course you can't, and to believe that it is true because it can be conceived and framed in language, is ridiculous. the rational approach is to believe in that which can be observed, inferred through the scientific method, and when necessary, to place one's "faith" in the explanation which requires the least unsupported claims and produces the least untestable ramifications.this operational certainty precludes the existence of doughnut worlds, sentient stars, the boogie man and the notion of persistent significance existing outside of and independent of cognition. knowing that something exists with no evidence other than a feeling is indistinguishable from wishing in that the claim for it's existence is conjured, whole cloth, out of desire for the external world to match the internal experience; it must be so because it feels right. if, suddenly, i became certain that the flying spaghetti monster was the designer of the designer of all things, i would seek diagnosis for a brain disorder that causes disruptions in the ability to differentiate between reality and spurious artifacts of the mind. that is not to be misunderstood as a statement that all spirituality is a pathology. rather, it is a learned disability, a yearning for meaning that is so strong, that it overwhelms reason.

for me, there is no future, except for the ontological one which proceed from causation. intellectual rigor can produce no connection between faith (and by extension a teleological outlook) and demonstratible reality. ergo "faith is wishing".

regarding the diminution of other points of view, just because i say so, does not make it so. the marketplace of ideas is rich with points of view. mine is but one in a multitude. are you offended by my certainty?
paz y luz we all extrapolate signification from the series of events that is our life. this trait is shared both by the scientific and religious mind, but with different manifestations. one person experiences a string of metaphysical perceptions and it shapes their thoughts about existence and tomorrow just as another's thoughts are shaped a string of mathematical perceptions. that the latter's devices are more sundry and regular than the others is irrelevant; we have only our experiences to guide us. some cast wider nets in an attempt to collect knowledge or perceive what is true, and we both agree that no net is sufficiently wide to rule out all other possibilities. our principal difference is what material we consider meritorious for consideration in formulation of an ontological stance, should one's mental position be sufficiently free to take an active role therein. i object to your categorization of faith as wishful thinking because in doing so you castigate the route (and thus, the life experiences producing such conclusions) as somehow invalid. it isn't. you have only seen what your life has shown to you, and learned to accept knowledge according to a rubric learned from the experiences in your life. others have different lives and thus different criteria; some have more eccentric methods of making such assessments than others. my objection to your statement is the same as my objection to religious fundamentalists, and that is the presumption that "my way is correct and your way, no offense, is somehow flawed". conceited rubbish.

as to your perceived monopoly on rationality, i am reminded of the fable about the wolf who, upon meeting a tiger, cannot understand why it wears those ridiculous and unnecessary orange stripes, for since the wolf has never had a need for such ostentation the tiger surely mustn't really need its stripes either.
z if a "truth" is based on and yields testable, and repeatable results, then i deem it a truth, if it does not, then it is only a "truth" in name. i respect your right to believe anything you wish, are inclined to, are constituted for and allow yourself to. that does not mean that i find (what of it i know and can infer from this fleeting exchange) it at all plausible. belief is intrinsically exclusionary of contradictory belief. that is the nature of "truth"; it suggests falsity.

i'd also like to point out that (very likely) your system of belief probably includes a large subset of mine as "true" were as mine is much more limited (read as: rigorous) excluding (again this is assumed from the context of our brief discussion) much of yours. conceivable does not equal possible, possible does not equal probable, probable does not equal provable and provable does not equal proven.

seriously, is it my certainty that disturbs you?
z also, regarding your comment which compares my outlook to fundamentalists: are you suggesting that only agnostics, being uncertain, have an acceptable outlook? i have made it a point to study religiosity., to be familiar with a very broad selection of religious traditions, philosophies, mythologies, histories, dogmas and origins. i respect others. this respect does not include a devaluation of my own world view. science is the only arbiter of truth as i define it. other uses of the word truth are less useful and therefore less valuable. truth is a human construct. i respect other's right to be wrong. 090630
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paz y luz ontological certainty has haunted the world for many an age, and is a demon conjured up by many a sorcerer from many a school. had i a single yen for every disagreement i've had with the ontologically certain, i'd retire to sapporo at once.

i doubt the value of pursuing this discussion much further, but i'll make one more attempt to explain why faith is not mere wishing.

almost every person makes some attempt to interpret their life. this interpretation draws upon different sources in different lives, and often evolves throughout one's life. sometimes no conclusions are made. sometimes a conclusion is made that is based upon a religious view or a scientific view. sometimes unique perspectives are developed. the common thread in all cases is that the conclusion drawn is based on the events within one's life. from these events, faith is sometimes constructed afterwards, and sometimes born raw from the moment. people have epiphanal moments, sometimes so forceful that their attempts to approach whatever revelation rationally proves either undue, undoable, or hermeneutically inappropriate. (that you do not accept this means nothing more than the absence of such an event in your own life.) sometimes people retain a belief in something despite their own rational deconstruction; the belief persists not like a room one refuses to leave or a torch one continually relights, but rather like a scent that one cannot clear from the air, a scent which tinges the entirety of one's experiences with a pleasant or malignant odor.

so i return to the source of my objection, that faith does not equate to wishing. do they at times coincide? perhaps. but more often, faith is begotten of the personal experiences had in the grandest experiment of all: our lives. if you do not consider one's life experience to be a sufficient source of ontological development, that is your prerogative. (i am reminded of the critic who simply could not enjoy the performance of the mahler symphony because the third english hornist missed the e-flat in measure 426 of the fourth movement.) it is nearly impossible for another to assess whether someone has been adequately critical of their own experience, and i would encourage you to not categorically write off 95% of the world's population as errant or misled simply because you cannot fathom their having conducted themselves in a mentally appropriate manner. no matter how many people you have known, and no matter how well, you are merely guessing about the remaining 6.x billion.

the other point that you perhaps do not grasp is that often people wish for things contrary to the prescriptions of their faith. indeed, sometimes people wish they possessed a different faith entirely, or perhaps no faith at all. faith is often a conclusion one cannot help but return to again and again; there is usually nothing wishlike about it.

that faith is not a part of your life (we'll pretend your expressed certainty is somehow exempt), i couldn't care less. i am not a person of faith in the traditional sense, either. yet as someone who claims to see the world so purely, who so often supposes his views to possess such clarity, you should make a serious reassessment of what 'faith' means and the role it plays in people's lives. your current stance is ridiculous and arrogant; be ridiculous, but lose the diminution. it does nothing to help anyone and is, at least in this case, without reasonable foundation.
epitome of incomprehensibility Hm. I saw that the word "teleological" was linked and was curious to see what it linked to.

I see a debate, read it, and immediately want to position myself between the two sides. As usual.

The effect of personality on faith or non-faith, even on style of argument, can't be discounted (see above). I have a rather agnostic personality. Still, it's fair enough to remember that science is a discipline - human construct - however rational it is. We're still bound by the limits of our perception.

I probably prescribe to a sort of teleological viewpoint if I'm thinking of life as a story, which I tend to do. That doesn't mean it has meaning, or what humans think of as "meaning." What does meaning mean, anyway?
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