, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 301-320

A complex systems theory of teleology

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Abstract

Part I [sections 2–4] draws out the conceptual links between modern conceptions of teleology and their Aristotelian predecessor, briefly outlines the mode of functional analysis employed to explicate teleology, and develops the notion of cybernetic organisation in order to distinguish teleonomic and teleomatic systems. Part II is concerned with arriving at a coherent notion of ‘intentional control’. Section 5 argues that intentionality is to be understood in terms of the representational properties of cybernetic systems. Following from this, section 6 argues that intentional control needs to be seen as a particular type of relationship between the system and its environment.

I would like to gratefully acknowledge the large guiding input of Professor C. A. Hooker, who supervised the development of this paper from its inception. Bill herfel also provided valuable criticism of late drafts.