noun Philosophy.

  1. the doctrine that final causes exist.
  2. the study of the evidences of design or purpose in nature.
  3. such design or purpose.
  4. the belief that purpose and design are a part of or are apparent in nature.
  5. (in vitalist philosophy) the doctrine that phenomena are guided not only by mechanical forces but that they also move toward certain goals of self-realization.


  1. philosophy
    1. the doctrine that there is evidence of purpose or design in the universe, and esp that this provides proof of the existence of a Designer
    2. the belief that certain phenomena are best explained in terms of purpose rather than cause
    3. the systematic study of such phenomenaSee also final cause
  2. biology the belief that natural phenomena have a predetermined purpose and are not determined by mechanical laws

n.“study of final causes,” 1740, from Modern Latin teleologia, coined 1728 by German philosopher Baron Christian von Wolff (1679-1754) from Greek teleos “entire, perfect, complete,” properly genitive of telos “end, goal, result” (see tele-), + -logia (see -logy).

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