Definition of teleology in English:



mass nounPhilosophy
  • 1The explanation of phenomena in terms of the purpose they serve rather than of the cause by which they arise.

    ‘no theory of history can do without teleology’
    count noun ‘his theory of class consciousness is predicated on a teleology’
    • ‘But on this larger scale, suspicion about metanarratives of progress is still appropriate, particularly where these involve teleologies.’
    • ‘Not only do his detailed accounts describe competing constructions of black subjectivity, but they also prescribe particular roles and developmental teleologies for black culture and political consciousness.’
    • ‘Rather, it points to natural developmental teleologies in children's lives that child-rearing should take into account.’
    • ‘Rather, he is presenting an emerging ethical alternative that favors individual preference over goods conceived in concrete social networks and immutable teleologies of life.’
    • ‘Pragmatism in ethics is often regarded as a form of teleology or consequentialism.’
    1. 1.1Theology The doctrine of design and purpose in the material world.
      • ‘Thus the appearance of teleology by itself is not sufficient to infer intelligent design.’
      • ‘This portrays a loose teleology, a soft concept of creation, one that permits genuine, though not ultimate, integrity and autonomy in the creatures.’
      • ‘Unbounded design or contingent teleology occurs when the end-state is not specifically predetermined, but rather is the result of selection of one from among several available alternatives.’
      • ‘It is a model that applies both a human and a divine teleology through Thomas's hallmark ethics of natural law.’
      • ‘Without some teleology, there is no flourishing and no future for the human community.’


Mid 18th century (denoting the branch of philosophy that deals with ends or final causes): from modern Latin teleologia, from Greek telos ‘end’ + -logia (see -logy).