The Greek prefix telos expresses intent or purpose. In this sense, teleology is the branch of metaphysics that studies the ends, that is, the supposed purposes of something or someone. This discipline created a current of thought known as teleologism.
In the history of philosophy and science
For Aristotle, everything that occurs in nature can be explained from four causes. If we apply this criterion to the idea of man, the result would be as follows: Teleologism
1) there is a material cause (the issue of the body),
2) there is a formal cause (the structure or shape of the body),
3) there is an efficient cause that caused the union of matter and form (in this case, the efficient cause would be the parents of an individual ),
4) every man has a final cause, that is, a meaning or purpose.
Of the four Aristotelian causes, the final cause was decisive when explaining issues such as movement or the mechanisms of nature. With finalism as the central idea, Aristotle‘s followers understood that everything can be explained by knowing the “why” of things. This approach began to weaken with Copernicus and Galileo‘s proposals on science. Teleologism
Although at present science does not ask the “why” of the phenomena of reality , the vision of teleologism is deeply rooted in the vision of human history and in the mentality of many people.
in the interpretation of history
There are many ways to understand the story. There are those who see it as a simple succession of events. In contrast, others believe that human history is guided by something. The teleological view of history was defended by the philosopher Hegel.
A very common approach in everyday life
There are people who believe they are in this world “for something”. This means that they somehow believe in a kind of plan for themselves and that their mission in life is to carry out this plan in the best possible way. This type of belief is teleological, as it presupposes that people’s lives are destined for a purpose. For some this aim or purpose may be spiritual in character and for others it may be material in nature. Teleologism
Anyway, it is a very common idea and with a certain attraction (it is not the same to say that we have an end in life than to say that we are here with no purpose). However, there are two ways to understand the importance of life: an individual creates his own goal or, on the contrary, considers that his goal does not depend on himself, but on a superior force that drives him in one direction or another.