Teleology and the Cosmos

Monte Ransome Johnson

in Aristotle on Teleology

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780199285303
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603143 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Aristotle Studies Series

 Teleology and the Cosmos

Show Summary Details


Aristotle’s cosmos consists of natural substances, each with its own proper functions, motions, and ends. To this extent, his cosmos is teleological. But there is no overall or cosmic teleology in a stronger sense, above and beyond the applicability of teleological explanations to each of the natural things. For the universe (or nature as a whole) does not have a proper function, or motions, goods or ends. The stars, elements, plants, animals and humans do, and nature is the principle of motion and the end for each of these. In the final chapter of Metaphysics XII (Lambda), Aristotle discusses an aporia about how the good exists in “the nature of the whole”. He ends not with a positive account, but with a criticism of his predecessors who have advanced an account of an extrinsic cause of the cosmos.

Keywords: cosmos; motion; teleological proof; god; anthropocentrism; animals; plants; stars; axiology; ethics

Chapter.  23391 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.