Teleology

All teleological worldviews are mythic, but who cares, so long as they do no harm? Teleological myths include Enlightenment ‘progress’ and that bastardised Christianity which thinks salvation comes after death in angel-infested clouds.*

Teleology is harmful when it reorientates your actions toward an end that sacrifices life in this world and produces results that do not benefit yourself or humanity in the present.

Nietzsche railed against Christian escapist teleology and so does the ‘new atheist’ Richard Dawkins*.

It can lead you not to appreciate this world fully and to become what Kierkegaard called a ‘knight of infinite resignation’.

While many of us would reject a metanarrative with substantial teleology, we are much more apt to adopt what I will call ‘anthropocentric utilitarian ontological teleology’ in our everyday lives. That is, we view objects in the world in terms of what they can do for us as humans. We pick up a hammer to hit a nail. We never stop to be fascinated by the structure, material and light reflected from the hammer. We have lost a sense of awe in our everyday lives by engaging in the reductionism of utility. We are no longer appreciative of the world given to us. Our notions of God are no longer centred on gratitude for what he/she/it has given us. Heidegger, with his many complaints of technocratic societies, admonished us against such ‘ontological teleology’. I don’t think we have paid much attention though.

*Buddhism is fundamentally escapist, but despite popular conceptions, does not necessitate self-denial. Buddhism ougt to cause no harm, promote compassion and lead to a greater appreciation of living things. For these reasons its teleology is not subject to my critique.

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