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Hegel’s Dialectic of Teleology

The Metaphysics of Teleology
Friday, November 26, 2021, 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm

Kant revived discussion of teleology in modern philosophy, but he construed all teleology according to one model, which I call the Intentional Model of teleology. Kant denied teleological judgments (and, perforce, teleological explanations) objective status; they could have only the heuristic status of a regulative ideal. Hegel disagrees both with Kant’s assessment of the status of teleological judgments and with his analysis. Hegel does countenance the usefulness of the Intentional Model for judgments about the teleology involved in human agency and artifacts, but argues that it actually presupposes a more fundamental form of teleology, which I call the Functional Model. That is, the Intentional Model presupposes that there are some things in the world that are directly responsive to purposes without taking a detour through beliefs and desires. Hegel thus is better able to take account of organisms than Kant. Ultimately, Hegel argues, teleology is a matter of self-realizing objects and processes: organisms and, in the end, the world itself.

Willem A. deVries is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of New Hampshire. He took his degrees from Haverford College (B.A.) and the University of Pittsburgh (M.A., Ph.D.). He has also taught at Amherst College, Harvard University, Tufts University, the University of Vienna, and University College Dublin. His books have focused mostly on Wilfrid Sellars (Knowledge, Mind, and the Given, co-authored with Timm Triplett, Wilfrid Sellars) and G. W. F. Hegel (Hegel’s Theory of Mental Activity). He has also published numerous articles on these figures as well as issues in pragmatism, the philosophy of mind, and Plato. He is co-editor of the Routledge Studies in American Philosophy.

The chief goal of the "Meant to Be: Resuscitating the Metaphysics of Teleology" project is to foster intelligent debate on philosophical issues concerning science, religion, and their conflicts and connections.
Headed by principal investigator Daniel Kodaj, along with research assistant Tamás Paár, and co-investigators László Bernáth and Martin Pickup and running from October 2020 to March 2022, the project will include a public seminar series, two international conferences, two edited volumes, and an online materials and bibliography that will be available on-line at the project website. In addition to its research activities, the project is launching a Hungarian YouTube channel to explore some of the project’s main topics intending to be accessible to non-academics, too.

"Meant to Be: Resuscitating the Metaphysics of Teleology", is supported by a subgrant from the New Horizons for Science and Religion in Central and Eastern Europe initiative, is supported by grants from the Ian Ramsey Centre and the John Templeton Foundation.and is hosted by the CEU Center for Religious Studies.

To find out more about this project, visit the website