A Case for Truncating Certain Philosophical Discussions

I’ve participated in discussions related to religion and philosophy for over three decades.  Eventually, I came to think that most of what is talked about is a waste of time and neurotransmitters.  Why? Because if one looked at certain fundamental issues and saw their implications, those discussions would be truncated early on or at least would take very different forms.  Let me give an example.  Discussions concerning free-will have gone on for millennia.  From the “materialist” side what has happened, in my view, is that the fundamental picture of what is implied by the “materialist” position has been obscured with all sorts of elaborate tactics like semantic gymnastics, misdirection, bait-and-switch, etc.  So we get the compatibilists who, in my view, opt for a bait-and-switch strategy.  The no-free-will advocates “bravely” accept that fact but then go on to slam religious sentiment (ignoring that in their worldview, religious adherents couldn’t have done otherwise anyway) or in the case of morality, they seem to feel there is still some moral high ground to be had. And so the debate rages on. But let’s see if we can truncate that line of thinking by developing a picture of what it really means.  Sometimes a narrative can clarify things.  Over on meaningoflife.tv there was a discussion on consciousness.  As the commenter discussion developed I introduced the idea of the automaton (some entity that just does what it does and couldn’t do otherwise.)  Then another user talked about it.  Eventually, I posted the following to, hopefully, clarify the situation with a narrative.  Here’s my post.

The automaton scenario raises the question of “what’s going on in morality?”. If there is no free will and we are all automatons, then how could we describe the moral situation?

Well, apparently what we would have are competing/cooperating autonomic systems. Each has its own algorithms that bias the automatons in certain directions. Then if there are enough like-algorithmic automatons, they can form tribes, sharing biases. So what we get, in some situations, are autonomic tribes who compete against other autonomic tribes where there is algorithmic disagreement. In other cases autonomic social systems try to cooperate with each other. Moral plays are essentially algorithmic activities of conflict and cooperation. For what algorithmic goal? Who knows. Depends on the algorithm.

So even though each automaton can’t do otherwise than what it does, those tribes who have power can then enforce certain algorithmic behaviors and even perhaps reprogram algorithms (algorithmic wash).

Sounds awfully grim to me, but I think that’s an accurate picture of what we’d have.

Instead of pushback, that post was met with mostly silence. Now that could mean others thought it was nonsense, or it could mean they just couldn’t go there. The user I responded to did, however, agree it was grim and wondered about alternatives.

The point I’m trying to make is that some discussions can rattle on for centuries without really taking a hard look at the fundamental picture.  Now what I offered wasn’t some proof that the no-free-will position is incorrect.  But, if the scenario I laid out is logically and empirically valid and also psychologically untenable, then why perpetuate discussions that virtually no one would feel comfortable with.   Seems to me a waste of time where more fruitful discussions could take place.


Why not more Desparation?

I was watching a video with Robert Wright and someone else (can’t remember).  Anyway, Wright seemed to be pressing for some sort of purpose in evolution.  He’s talked about this before.  So, after the video, one of the commenters commented that Wright seemed desperate to get some sort of purpose into reality.  I commented back asking why more people aren’t desperate as well.

I mean, after all, if all the events in this universe are purposeless and ultimately meaningless, just arising out of necessity (what is called law) and chance (quantum indeterminacy) then that says the universe is just an autonomic system.  It just does what it does and can’t do otherwise.  But that also means so do we.  We are just automatons just doing what we do and can’t do otherwise.  All our thoughts and actions are no different categorically from some dumb machine, like a thermostat.  Why wouldn’t that view make anyone desperate for some other worldview?  To me, that answer is obvious. Social and psychological consequences.

Think about it.  If you’re someone who is non-religious and associate with other like-minded people there can be a tremendous social price to pay to even entertain the idea that there may be some ultimately meaningful basis for reality and with it some sort of free will.  If necessity and chance aren’t determinative factors in how reality is constituted, then that opens up the idea of God. Wow!  That can be a can of worms for those who want to stay within the tribe of the non-religious.  Most just can’t go there. They probably have some psychological defense mechanisms blocking any reasonable competing view. So what happens?

I take it back. There is a desperation at play with these people.  It’s called compatibilism in the free will debate. In my view, it’s disingenuous. It’s a bait-and-switch strategy to assuage the discomfort of the automaton scenario. How so?  The compatibilists claim there is “free will” (the bait).  But the switch is that we are free because we aren’t forced by some outside force to choose a certain way.  What?  How does this help? It doesn’t.  We’re still automatons who can’t do otherwise but because something outside us doesn’t force our decision, we’re free.  Yippee, we’re free.  Really? This is where psychology comes in.  They latch on to the free will term and don’t really examine the rest of the argument.  It makes them feel better so they don’t have to deal with the logical consequences of an autonomic universe.  I’m free.  Full stop.

The problem with compatibilism is that in an autonomic universe we are forced.  It might not be some person holding a gun to our head, but the gun is really just the causal forces of necessity and chance.  We really have no choice.  It’s forced on us by purposeless, meaningless causation.

I’ve presented this automaton scenario to non-religious people and they invariably rebel against it.  No wonder.  It’s not a pretty psychological picture for anyone.  It’s just not psychologically possible for most people to apply that idea to our every thought or action. Think about it.  How would it make you feel if for every thought and action you reminded yourself, “I couldn’t have done otherwise”.  And even in that very thought, you couldn’t have done otherwise either. Too grim to accept.

So for those who get this (Robert Wright does, I think), the desperation for “something more” as William James put it, makes sense.  The autonomic scenario is not psychologically viable.  Take William James again as an example.  It is reported that when faced with the no-free-will claim he went into despair for a considerable time. It was only when he shed his radical empiricism and just claimed “I choose” that he recovered.

So, desperation can come in different forms. Desperation can open one to alternate ideas or it can lead to repression and entrenchment. If one chooses openness to some form of meaningful and free universe, then expect blowback.  If the goal is the truth, then maybe it’s worth exploring that option.


Be Thankful FOR your Troubles

I’m a fan of baseball.  I’ve been watching a lot of games lately and it seems more and more players are becoming demonstrative of their religious beliefs, particularly their thankfulness.  So, if a player hits a home run, when they cross home plate they point to the sky thanking God for their good fortune.   All well and good.

However, while this is fine I think there is also something missing in our thankfulness.  I think we should be thankful when things aren’t going right and even thankful for our troubles.  Now troubles come in different forms.  It’s one thing to get cancer or lose a loved one.  It’s another if our troubles are essentially self-inflicted wounds.  But why not be thankful either way.  Those troubles can be motivating towards something deeper than the current troubling circumstance.

It’s easy to get complacent in our growth.  Things just rattle along, day to day.  We try to avoid unpleasant situations, most often really hard.  The problem is that no matter what we try, there seem to be persistent problems that keep coming back to haunt us. Often it is because we continue to think and do things that aren’t good for us or others.  Perhaps we have a bad habit or have placed our priorities in the wrong place.  The Buddhists implore us to wake up.  They say we should not be so attached to things, whether it be material things, our ego, our social status, or even our health.  Are all of these really what is most important?  Perhaps not.  What I think this waking-up admonition is really about is to take a moment, step back and think about what’s going on.  It’s easy to just go on autopilot day to day, suffering the same setbacks and troubles mindlessly.  Instead why not take a moment to say, “Wait a minute” and then examine what is going on inside and outside ourselves. A popular approach to this today is called mindfulness, being aware of our thoughts and feelings.  If this is not just a short term meditative practice but actually an ongoing, all day long exercise, it might give us some insights to help us wake up.

This is where troubles can help.  They can also wake us up.  Things are not right, or at least we think so.  There’s a problem.  So, how to deal with it?  Well, we can just use our normal coping strategies.  This might be psychological repression or some type of stereotypical maneuvering.  Perhaps it is an attempt to assert control over the situation.  Or, it might be just getting depressed.

But what if we see our troubles as an opportunity for change.  Change not just to get past the momentary issue, but for long term benefit.  If we view our troubles that way, then why not be thankful for them?  So much long term good could be possible. Don’t just be thankful when you “hit a home run”. Be thankful for your troubles.  They push you out of your comfort zone and demand change. That way you can think about what’s really wrong, what’s really important, and change your life for the better.

Now change doesn’t come easy or fast.  Habits and ways of thinking become ingrained over long periods of time.  I’ve heard research that says it takes about a month to change a habit.  I think it actually takes a lot longer to keep it from coming back.  So what this means is that we have to be thankful for our troubles all the time. If the same problems keep coming back, excellent!  This means that if you explore those problems deeply and persistently work on them, the change that occurs could be profound, for your whole life.

Life isn’t easy. It’s a struggle. But sometimes great things happen and we are thankful for them.  It feels good.  But those moments are often fleeting and sometimes even counterproductive.  I think it is better to be more thankful for our troubles. If we are, that means we can try to step up, be courageous, and do the hard work for lasting change.

The Science and God Phobias

Phobia: an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.  Extreme fear can make people react in ways they normally wouldn’t.  It taints judgement and bias thinking. I think we see this in both the scientific and religious communities. And it takes different forms.

In science it can be the kiss of death for a scientist to invoke God in the unfolding of the universe.  There have been a brave few who have and often they are labeled as charlatans or non-scientific hacks. I was watching a video on meaningoflife.tv with Robert Wright and Brian Greene and at one point it really highlighted this.  Now Brian Greene is a well known scientist and popularizer.   I really like how he explains science, particularly fundamental science.  He knows how to make it accessible to the average person. But I think he has a phobia about the possibility that God may be active in the universe.  As an example, he may not think much of the idea that we live in a simulation  but even though it is similar to the God of idealism, he’s ok with it since it doesn’t invoke God (check the link above).   Now I’ve watched Robert Wright’s videos and read some of his articles.  He is a special case, in my view.  He is very knowledgeable in science, particularly evolution. I think he really gets it that if we live in an autonomic world (mechanistic even with some chance thrown in), that creates a serious problem for humanity.  Things like free will and morality are basically nonsense.  However, he is also very careful.  He gingerly pushes the envelope a bit but also tries very hard not to get too “wooy” which basically means getting too much outside the scientific realm and into some sort of spiritual or mystical domain.  I think Wright would really like to broach the theological subject more but is afraid that it will delegitimize him within the scientific community.  If you want to be part of the “in crowd” among the scientific establishment you just don’t go there.  You will be marginalized.

There could be many reasons for this aversion to God talk but I’ll make a psychological speculation. What’s the psychology of a scientist?  First, the putative scientific method requires predictability,  testability, and falsifiability.  So perhaps most people who go into science will embrace that wholeheartedly.   So, what if there is an unpredictable ultimate mind (God) fundamental to the unfolding of reality.  Big problem. For those who long for a theory of everything or even a comprehensive predictability to all things this is a major road block. Many just can’t go there. This can result in a very emotional response to the issue.  This is not surprising. After all, religion has put forth a lot of nonsense in the past that doesn’t seem reasonable even to non-scientists today who have studied science and take it’s findings seriously.  So, what we have are scientists who have a disdain for anything that suggests that God is a fundamental cause in how the universe unfolds.

Now, per se, I don’t consider this necessarily bad; as long as scientists refrain from theological speculations.  Too readily invoking God into science can short circuit deeper probes into the nature of reality. This does no good for science or theology.  After all, if theology wants to understand and characterize God and God’s relationship with the world then science is an invaluable resource.  “You can know something about the artisan from the artifact”.  Science examines the artifacts of fundamental reality and theology can learn a lot from that. In fact, I think science is an essential resource for theology.

Now this is not to say that there are no scientists who are theistic and try to keep a foot planted in both science and religion.  There certainly are. So far so good. Unfortunately, I think most do a great disservice to theology.  As I see it, they fall into two camps.

One camp affirms science but claims that God, from time to time, intervenes into natural order for some purpose.  This is supernaturalism and experimentally would be outside the realm of science to explore.  In other words, normally things go along according to the laws of nature but from time to time God steps in and subverts that order for some reason. Everything is determined by necessity (law) and chance (indeterminism) except when God forces something different.   All the major traditions have narratives of these supernatural events occurring. Science can do its thing but God can also.  While supernaturalism is logically possible, is it reasonable or theologically optimal?  I don’t think so (see Divine Action )

The other theological camp is more confused and, in my view, also very damaging. In this camp, God is more like a superintendent in an apartment building. God keeps the heat on and the water flowing but does nothing else.  God sustains the order of nature but doesn’t really act beyond that. I’ve seen American Episcopal documents that essentially espouse this view.  Seems to me this is a ham-handed attempt to attain scientific legitimacy but at what cost?  Prayers of supplication become a non-starter; at most a psychological mechanism.  Teleology is also an empty term because we live in a mechanistic universe.  What this really presents is a deistic God with an added maintenance function.  Unfortunately, those who take this position don’t seem to follow it to its logical conclusions and instead think they are being scientific in their theology.

All this is unfortunate because I think what science may be telling us now is that God has created a universe where life can exist and still evolve according to God’s purpose without some subversive activity.  In Newton’s day, supernaturalism was an understandable caveat to the mechanistic view of the world. It still offered God an “in” for divine purpose.  Today with the advances in science knowledge, I don’t think supernaturalism is either needed or theologically helpful.  Why would God create a universe where God needed to “jump in” from time to time to get things right? Is this a picture of a competent creator God?  Seems a bit ad hoc to me.

So what has science discovered that might be more a reasonable view of God’s activity in this reality? This is where things get a bit fuzzy.  There are several theories about the fundamental nature of reality.  The equations of the standard model in quantum physics have been remarkably accurate in experiments (albeit only their probabilities).  I don’t think there are many scientists who reject this model, even though most think it is incomplete.  So, what does quantum physics tell us?  From the Newtonian perspective, so many “weird” things: Is the mind of the experimenter responsible for the actualization of reality as in the Copenhagen interpretation?  Are different universes created with each quantum event (Many Worlds interpretation)? How can one particle affect another across the universe instantaneously (non-locality)?  Or is everything deterministic guided by a hidden pilot wave (Bohmian interpretation). All these theories and others boggle our minds.   So far there is no resolution to the dilemma of these contradictory theories.

While all these theories are tentative there are legitimate models that represent reality in a non-mechanistic way, even some that are amenable to some ultimate mind at the fundamental level.  I talk more about this here.

Given the history of the conflict of science and religion, the aversion to injecting religious sentiment into scientific explorations is understandable. But perhaps it is time to change.  What are the alternatives?  If we live in a world that is ultimately meaningless and autonomic, with everything coming about due to necessity and chance then why bother with anything. It’s all bullshit ultimately. In this case it’s just the universe doing its inevitable thing, tricking us psychologically to think we are free and there is a purpose to our lives.  In this scenario, if one really embraces it, reality is so grim.  Given that grim alternative, why not explore legitimate possibilities where there is true meaning, purpose, free will, moral ultimates, etc.  Why not attenuate our fears and entertain alternatives that may be reasonable?

The Communion

In many theologies there is some sort of separation posited between God and the world. This can range from God being “totally other” as some have put it to forms where God is in us or with us but because of our corrupt nature there is some sort of divide to be overcome.

In the aspect monism of The Divine Life Communion there is no separation between God and the world.  Each individual, whether it be an elementary particle all the way to the most complex organism is a particular life of God.  God takes on the constraints of being for that individual entity and lives that life.  Now, this concept is nothing new.   In Greek there is a word “kenosis” which means the act of emptying. There are different interpretations of what this means in a theological sense but in one it means casting off the divine nature to become fully human.  This is one interpretation in Christianity.  The incarnation is an example (“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, John 1:14).   In Hinduism there is a similar concept of the avatar, where there is a material occurrence or incarnation of a deity.  Incarnations appear throughout the ancient world of thought.

I talk about this to point out that there is a wide spread sentiment in theological thought that God is present in the world, and not just in some sort of mystical or spiritual sense but as an actual being. From the DLC perspective, God lives.

So if God is living the life of everything, then that also means there is a communion of all things in the Divine Life.  Each aspect of God’s life is also inextricably part of all others. This is communion.  Communion is a sharing in the Divine Life.

So what is this sharing about?  There is certainly an important communal aspect to it. We share life together in our joys and pains, our life events, our passions, and even the mundane day to day happenings.  This sharing tells us we are not alone. We have a deep connection with each other and the world.

But there can also be a deeper aspect to communion.  When I was a Christian and attended the Lutheran church one of the things I really liked was what we called Holy Communion, or the Eucharist.  In the Lutheran churches I attended this was a communal event but also a sacred one.  It was a communal meal, to be sure, but also more than just eating together.  It was a communion with each other and also with God.  In Lutheran theology, the bread and wine are both actual bread and wine and actually the body and blood of Christ.  There is a mystical element to it. A deep connection to God, and with it a communal connection to each other through our participation in God.  While I no longer consider myself a Christian, I also think there is so much deep truth in all this.

As a communion of the Divine Life, everything participates in God’s life, as a whole as well as each individual life. We also participate in God’s purpose for life.  I think that purpose is the eternal creation of love, beauty, and meaning.  It dwells deep within us all and calls out to be made real, every day in every event.  And what we do does not just affect us individually.  It also affects every other part of the communion as well as God, the author of all things.  When we act, we touch not only just those around us but also the trajectory of God’s purpose.  We can thwart that purpose, creating hate, ugliness and meaninglessness or we can probe our divine depth, embrace it and act accordingly.

One metaphor I like to illustrate the relationship of the world to God is Author/Story.  God as author is the creator of the narrative of life.  That narrative has settings, characters, events and constraints. It also has an underlying purpose to it, a goal that is not an end point but a dynamic, living process.  But the narrative is not set in stone.  As an author writes, the narrative unfolds, sometimes in unexpected ways. The author must adjusts to how the story emerges. This is the creative process at work. I think this is also how things work with God, the Author.  As God lives each life (yours, mine, and everything else), the narrative has its twists and turns. There are points of decision where each individual can choose to embrace divine purpose or not.  It’s tough.  Life is complicated and busy.  Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail.  But this is the essence of living.  There is an eternal challenge of life to be courageous, loving, and creative for the good.

So as we embrace each day, I hope that we can all be more cognizant that we are not alone. We are part of a grande, beautiful adventure of Life. A great gift. But perhaps we can also be more aware that since we are part of the Communion, each of our acts not only affect us, but also others in the Communion, and God the Author.

The Evolution of the Divine Life

I have argued here that we shouldn’t think that there is some sort of ultimate culmination of history in a perfect, blissful state.  My view is that the Divine Life is eternally a struggle with the vicissitudes of life, trying to embrace the divine depth and instantiate that depth in this life.  Also see this essay on The Life of God.

So if there isn’t some eschaton that represents a final “solution” to life, then an interesting question is where is the Divine Life headed?  How is it evolving? Now, the term God is usually associated with terms like “infinite”, “eternal”, or the “omini’s”.  Terms like infinity and eternity stretch our cognition to the limit, boggling our minds.  But they also address the great mystery of life.  So perhaps, while they speak to our cognitive limits, they may be all we have.

If the Divine Life is eternal then God chooses to live eternally.  There must be something very important for God to want to take on the constraints of life to live. Perhaps this shouldn’t seem so strange.  Most people cherish life.  There is something about living, even with all its troubles that we really love.  Even with all the struggles there are times of great joy and fulfillment that seem to make it all worthwhile. Perfection is stagnant and sterile.  It is only in the complex negotiation of life that meaning can find a footing. So, perhaps like us, God finds living so important as well.

So where is the Divine Life headed?  Who knows.  If the purpose of life is the eternal creation of love, beauty, and meaning then who knows what lies ahead. No doubt there will be remarkable times when love, beauty, and meaning appear with great force as they have in the past.  Perhaps they will be somewhat “different” in how they become manifest in the future but also remain part of the ongoing processes of embracing the divine depth and making it happen in the moment.

There are different theories in science on what the future holds for this universe. It may end in a cold death. It may recycle itself but what we do know is that the earth will eventually perish and if there are inhabitants on it then, they will too.  Other civilizations throughout the universe will probably eventually succumb to a similar fate. Does that mean the Divine Life ends?  Certainly not.  The Life of God is not just about sentient beings.  God lives in everything from the quark, rock, plants, animals, and sentient beings. God’s lives a constrained being in all things.  And one shouldn’t necessarily think that the life of God is constrained only to this universe.  There may be many, many narratives created by God where God lives.  Just as an author may create many stories, with characters, environments, and situations so God may also.  Each will have its own constraints or parameters within which life navigates. Each “character” will have its own constraints and challenges. Each will have its divine depth to probe as the pull of divine purpose is ever present.

The Divine Life will evolve in ways that are particular to what has come before and the struggle of the divine communion in everything to embrace the divine depth and make it a reality.  Certainly there will fits and starts in the eternal process to create love, beauty, and meaning but perhaps that is as it should be.  We can be thrilled and excited when those come to fruition and gird our loins when they do not to make it happen again.

Laws or Habits?

A constant theme in science is that there are laws of nature.  Now what is meant by law?  Typically, I think what is meant is some persistent, intransigent, structural given that enforces the way things unfold.  Also, typically, I think that, at least in science, these laws are considered mindless. There is no intentionality associated with them.  The laws just do what they do with no purpose in mind.  This should obviously lead to a mechanistic worldview. Everything is determined by necessity and chance.  What we have in the universe is an autonomic system that just does what it does.

The implications of this are also, I think, obvious.  There is no real meaning, no free will, no moral high ground.  Everything just unfolds autonomically; a machine just doing what it does.  Anyone who denies this should offer some other causal ingredient to the mix.  Otherwise, their arguments are specious.

But what if what we call laws are just habits?  So what are habits?  Habits are not intransigent. They are part of the intention milieu of the mind.  They offer some sort of structural purpose to make things stable and regular but they are intentional to serve some purpose. If those habits don’t serve the inherent goals they can be changed.  Maybe a habit creates an environment where good things can happen but in some situations it doesn’t serve the ultimate goal. For example, eating a healthy diet may be a great habit but there may be times for psychological or social reasons it’s fine to pig out for some comfort or in social situations.  The healthy habit remains but a slight divergence does no harm and may be a benefit.  The ultimate purpose is not the habit but the underlying goal. Habits serve the ultimate purpose and are not an end to themselves. They are intentionally regular to serve a purpose.

So, is this what is going on with the regularities that are discovered in science? Perhaps.  After all, science works well with simple systems.  Reductionist science can be precise because it investigates simple systems with very few degrees of freedom.  Once, the degrees of freedom begin to increase, reductionist science falters. No definitive, precise descriptions can be provided.  We see this with physics envy in other fields like psychology, sociology, biology, etc.  Once the level of complexity gets to a certain point the precision of predictions becomes suspect.  There have been meta studies that have shown that the vast majority of scientific studies end up being wrong.  Now, there can be a lot of factors associated with this including, inadequate data samples, poor evaluative techniques, confirmation bias, etc.  Or it just could be that once the number of contributing factors increase to a certain level things are just not that predictable.  So, some would say that all is needed are better models, less bias, etc.  Perhaps.

But what if there is an inherent teleology at work.  What if the regularities we see at fundamental levels are just the purposeful plan to create a space where life can exist, grow, change, and in some cases embrace a divine purpose for life.  The regularities are essential just as healthy habits can be essential to well being.  But there could also be an openness to creativity and moving beyond an autonomic where habits are not really a separate category of causation but just part the purposeful unfolding of life.

Now, I think it is important here to emphasize that “habits” are not something discontinuous with the purposeful events in the world.  It might be tempting because of our acculturation to the law paradigm to think of habits as something to be overrided for some purpose. Not so.  The regularities we see are not something that needs to be overrided from time to time for some goal.  They are inherent in teleology.    Here let me offer a metaphor. The Juggler.  There is a stability of the juggle so that the balls will not fall.  But the juggler can also make slight changes to create novelty and interest.  It’s all intentional.  It might be said that included in the “habits” are the habits of teleology.  If we think of God continuously creating the universe in every second, then God does that by creating both the stabilities (regularities) that science is able to characterize and the novelties that also serve the underlying goals of God.

So, how would this fit in with science.  At the fundamental level of physics all we have are probabilities.  Over a large samples these probabilities are very accurate. But what about individual events?  The aggregate results of probabilities show a life giving regularity that is necessary. But individual events can also have powerful effects.  In the aggregate as single quantum event might seem trivial but that event might result in something much more profound.  The fundamental science will remain the same and the mathematics will remain accurate in the aggregate. But single events or a multitude of particular similar events could create something that cannot be captured within reductionist science.

Then on top of this there is the area of emergence where properties occur when there is a large enough collective but that cannot be deduced from the fundamental principals.  For those who are interested, check out Nobel Laureate Robert Laughlin’s work in this area.

Now, this is all speculative and may remain that way for a long time. But for those who may wonder about teleology in this world, it might offer a way to embrace the divine workings in reality that is totally compatible with science.  In this view, God creates where habits provide for stability such that life can exist but also where than can be creativity and teleology in its unfolding.