Classics of Biology

By August Pi Suñer; Charles M. Stern | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER XIV
CAUSATION AND DESIGN

FINALITY AND DETERMINISM

EVEN the most primitive view of the world impresses on man a coviction of intent. Since man acts from his own knowledge of objects within his understanding, phenomena are attributed to the intervention of "entities," "entelechies," as conceived from the standpoints of human consciousness and will. The primitive, in time and space, populates things with mystical spirits through whose agency the activity of the whole is maintained.

Such anthropomorphic myths observe events and foresee the consequences whereby their eventual effect will come to pass, finally, in a manner suitable for achieving a particular object in mind. Happenings develop teleologically "in order" to arrive at a particular result, in physical nature and still more so in the more complex sphere of living things, thus causing Aristotle (to mention but one instance) to say "life is not form but objective."

This proves to be no obstacle against even Aristotle himself, among so many other active minds, to assert that knowledge must be based upon the study of tangible events, on a basis of observation and experience, in order to establish by inductive reasoning the causes of such events. The profound ideological revolution which such a proposition signifies should be noted; namely, the endeavour to explain the world by the world itself without the help of myths. Hence we cast aside the symbol of Prometheus who wrested the secret of fire from the gods, attempting to eliminate imaginary deities in favour of an actual explanation of things as they enter our perceptions. If when we achieve some act or do some deed, it comes about through our own will, arbitrarily, and we can likewise not do it, or omit to do it, and if in connection with such act we observe some particular effect which does not occur unless that act be done, we cannot fail to conclude that such deed or act is indeed the cause of the effect, that one occurrence conditions and decides a second, and hence that such causal relationship occurs in acts depending upon ourselves just the same as in those which are outside us.

-236-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Classics of Biology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 337

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?