Does Evolution Have a Purpose?
7 p.m., Thursday, October 24
Panasci Family Chapel
The Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw a change of metaphors, from the world seen organically to the world seen mechanically. No longer was there place for ends or final causes. Everything supposedly was simply matter in motion. Yet biology proved to be remarkably incalcitrant. As Immanuel Kant concluded, it seems impossible to think of individual organisms without appeal to purposes and, as life scientists sought non-biblical solutions to origins, they simply substituted a human-culminating, progress-based history for the Judeao-Christian, human-centered history – from Providence to Progress. In this talk I will look at evolutionary biology today and ask whether teleology, end-directed thinking, has now finally left or if it still lurks even in the minds of the most stridently naturalistic thinkers.
Presenter: Michael Ruse, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the History and Philosophy of Science Program, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida