Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 489–492

Darwin's language may seem teleological, but his thinking is another matter

  • Michael T. Ghiselin

DOI: 10.1007/BF00850377

Cite this article as:
Ghiselin, M.T. Biol Philos (1994) 9: 489. doi:10.1007/BF00850377


Darwin's biology was “teleological” only if the term “teleology” is defined in a manner that fails to recognize his contribution to the metaphysics and epistemology of modern science. His use of teleological metaphors in a strictly teleonomic context is irrelevant to the meaning of his discourse. The myth of Darwin's alleged teleology is partly due to misinterpretations of discussions about whether morphology should be a purely formal science. Merely rejecting such notions as special creation and vitalism does not prevent the pernicious effects of teleological reasoning, even at the present time.

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael T. Ghiselin
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for the History and Philosophy of ScienceCalifornia Academy of SciencesSan FranciscoUSA