Sunday, February 20, 2011
Hot Potato Teleology
Mechanism distributes the hot potato of telos throughout reality, endlessly passing it from one entity to another, shuffling it under the carpet of as many entities as possible like hash browns on a plate of eggs. A mechanism is always a mechanism-for. A spoon is a machine for holding a piece of boiled egg. Holding is a mechanism of the hands for grasping things like spoons. The hands are machines for holding, writing and countless other tasks. They are made of bones, which are machines for...
Thus intelligent design theology is the permanent shadow of mechanistic biology. The only different is that intelligent design is explicit about teleology: there is a designer. Mechanistic biology, by contrast, is duty bound not to be honest about its teleological impulse.
So it's no surprise that Daniel Dennett, who regularly beats up on theism (and is one of the self-styled “four horsemen” that include Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris), uses the term design space throughout Darwin's Dangerous Idea. Again, what the heck is a non-teleological neo-Darwinist doing coming anywhere near the notion of design?
Thus reductionism and eliminative materialism are locked in eternal combat with their theistic shadow.
In various places Graham Harman talks about the hot potato of objectal essence. Take relationism. Things are made of relations. And those relations are relations of? Things, which are made of relations. And those relations are relations of?
The one thing that mechanistic biology can't explain is the one thing that it charges itself with explaining: life.
If you really want non-theism, reductionism and eliminative materialism are not the way to go about it.