- Paperback: 264 pages
- Publisher: TOF Publications, Inc. (July 6, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0962533602
- ISBN-13: 978-0962533600
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,544,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The biological basis of teleological concepts
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Binswanger, however, takes these hardest cases head-on and provides the most useful empirical analysis of teleological action that I've yet read. By focusing particularly on insentient entities (such as plants, hearts, and cells), Binswanger demonstrates the key features that unite conscious and non-conscious goal-directed action while distinguishing them from non-goal-directed movements. Thus, by examining the biological facts that give rise to non-conscious goal-directed action (or "vegetative action"), Binswanger is able to build a scientifically-grounded definition of "goal-directed action." For me, reaching this definition was the real treat of the book. Rather than simply "stipulating" a definition of goal-directedness, Binswanger analyzes a successively expanding context of biological facts, where at each step a provisional fact-based definition is given, later to be expanded and consolidated in light of further evidence. The result is a deep understanding of why all and only living things are teleological.
And as an added bonus, Binswanger shoots down about a half-dozen canards along the way, including such non-counterexamples as viruses and thermostats and the claim that only reproductive success matters biologically.
For students of the philosophy of biology, I would recommend this treatment of teleology above any other, even including Ernst Mayr's and his followers (though they now agree with Binswanger). For Rand scholars, too, this work is a must. I think it's the only contemporary work cited in Peikoff's opus, and it also figures prominently in Smith's "Viable Values" and "On Ayn Rand," a work by Gotthelf, who is himself a world-renowned expert on Aristotle's teleology.
To my mind, this work is philosophy at its best.