Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 301–320 | Cite as

A complex systems theory of teleology

  • Wayne Christensen


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.

Key words

Complex systems cybernetics emergence functions intentionality naturalism ontology teleology teleonomy 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wayne Christensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of NewcastleAustralia

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