Evolution and Goal-Directedness: How Darwin Re-Invented Teleology
Fr. Mariusz Tabaczek, OP
Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas – Angelicum
The conviction that Charles Darwin got rid of teleology and replaced it with a new way of thinking about adaptation, concentrating predominantly on the notion of chance, is most likely still a predominant view among both biologists and philosophers of biology. At the same time, a declared Darwinian naturalist and agnostic, Thomas Huxley, stated already in 1887 that “Perhaps the most remarkable service to the philosophy of biology rendered by Mr. Darwin is the reconciliation of Teleology and Morphology.” Hence, a number of researchers claim Darwin was in fact a “teleologist,” who re-invented teleology (i.e. goal-directedness of living creatures). This lecture defines and explains the differences between teleology, design and function, and vitalism, in Darwin’s time and later. It analyzes Darwin’s attitude towards teleology and traces the role of this metaphysical category both in the twentieth-century evolutionary synthesis and its most current developments.
Mariusz Tabaczek, O.P., is a Polish Dominican and theologian. He holds Ph.D. in philosophical theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA and Church Licentiate from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. He is a professor of theology and member of the Thomistic Institute at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
He is interested in the science-theology dialogue, especially in the issues concerning science and creation theology, divine action, and evolutionary theory. His research also goes to other subjects related to systematic, fundamental, and natural theology, philosophy of nature, philosophy of science (philosophy of biology, in particular), philosophy of causation, and metaphysics. His works address a whole range of topics, including: the notion of species, metaphysics of evolutionary transitions, concurrence of divine and natural causes in evolutionary transitions, definition and role of chance and teleology in evolution, classical and new hylomorphism, classical and contemporary (analytical) concepts of causation, emergence, science-oriented panentheism and its critique, and various aspects of divine action in the universe.
He published a number of articles on metaphysics and the issues concerning the relation between theology and science, and two monographs: Emergence. Towards A New Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science (University of Notre Dame Press 2019) and Divine Action and Emergence. An Alternative to Panentheism (University of Notre Dame Press 2020).