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[tel-ee-ol-uh-jee, tee-lee-] /ˌtɛl iˈɒl ə dʒi, ˌti li-/
noun, Philosophy.
the doctrine that final causes exist.
the study of the evidences of design or purpose in nature.
such design or purpose.
the belief that purpose and design are a part of or are apparent in nature.
(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.
Origin of teleology
From the New Latin word teleologia, dating back to 1730-40. See teleo-, -logy
Related forms
[tel-ee-uh-loj-i-kuh l, tee-lee-] /ˌtɛl i əˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl, ˌti li-/ (Show IPA),
teleologic, adjective
teleologism, noun
teleologist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for teleologist
Historical Examples
  • True, he did not know he was a teleologist, but he was none the less a teleologist for this.

    Luck or Cunning Samuel Butler
  • The fencer is (as Huxley says) "at the mercy of the teleologist."

  • This interpretation of the teleologist precludes all further argument.

  • They are of such a nature that every teleologist must hold them to imply what they are intended to disprove.

    Theism Robert Flint
  • The apparently diverging teachings of the teleologist and of the Morphologist are reconciled by the Darwinian hypothesis.

  • What the Darwinian does is to deny the validity of the evidence which the teleologist brings to prove his case.

    A Grammar of Freethought Chapman Cohen
  • The denial of final causes is the formative idea of Darwin's theory, and therefore no teleologist can be a Darwinian.

    What is Darwinism? Charles Hodge
  • Will the teleologist maintain that this selective process is itself indicative of special design?

    Thoughts on Religion George John Romanes
British Dictionary definitions for teleologist


/ˌtɛlɪˈɒlədʒɪ; ˌtiːlɪ-/
  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 phenomena See also final cause
(biology) the belief that natural phenomena have a predetermined purpose and are not determined by mechanical laws
Derived Forms
teleological (ˌtɛlɪəˈlɒdʒɪkəl; ˌtiːlɪ-), teleologic, adjective
teleologically, adverb
teleologism, noun
teleologist, noun
Word Origin
C18: from New Latin teleologia, from Greek telos end + -logy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for teleologist



"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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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