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Teleology And Dialectic

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Chapter Summary

Teleological reasoning comes up in the works of classical philosophers, Christian theologians, and modern philosophers of science. In this chapter, the author inquires into the logic of teleological explanation in natural and social science, and how Marx's approach addresses this issue and its political implications. The chapter shows that Marx's understanding of the causal powers of material forces was not metaphysical or invariable, and that his Preface does not forward a sequential, universal, and therefore metaphysical theory of history. It also shows that the movement toward communism, for Marx, was not inevitable because of this metaphysic. The examples in the chapter show how conventional thought, social and scientific, exhibit problems inherent in teleological explanations. Although the future cannot cause changes in the present, in a dialectical view, social-systemic elements prior to the future make possible what emerges in that future.

Keywords: communism; Karl Marx; metaphysic; natural science; social science; teleology



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