Aristotle’s Teleology and Modern Mechanics

Thesis or Dissertation


This dissertation addresses teleology in the writings of Aristotle and in relation to modern mechanics. In chapters one through three, I argue that Aristotle’s teleology is theoretically grounded in the claim that both as an explanatory and as a causal factor, actuality is prior to potentiality. As actualities, therefore, both form and function are prior to the material and efficient causes that condition their occurrence in nature. In chapters four and five, I then consider the recent “systems"� or "cybernetic"� view of goal-directedness, along with some basic features of mechanical systems and laws more generally, in light of Aristotle’s teleology. I conclude that from an Aristotelian point of view there is no conflict between teleological and mechanical approaches to nature.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-01222004-210357

Author Christopher V. Mirus
Advisor Phillip R. Sloan
Contributor Phillip R. Sloan, Committee Co-Chair
Contributor Michael J. Loux, Committee Co-Chair
Degree Level 2
Degree Discipline History and Philosophy of Science
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2003-11-17

Submission Date 2004-01-22
  • United States of America

  • motion

  • metaphysics

  • laws of nature

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Access Rights Open Access
Content License
  • All rights reserved