Upper-directed systems: A new approach to teleology in biology
How shall we understand apparently teleological systems? What explains their persistence (returning to past trajectories following errors) and their plasticity (finding the same trajectory from different starting points)? Here I argue that all seemingly goal-directed systems-e. g., a food-seeking organism, human-made devices like thermostats and torpedoes, biological development, human goal seeking, and the evolutionary process itself-share a common organization. Specifically, they consist of an entity that moves within a larger containing structure, one that directs its behavior in a general way without precisely determining it. If so, then teleology lies within the domain of the theory of compositional hierarchies. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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