On recovering teleological conceptions of the cosmic whole

John G. Brungardt, Ph.D.

Recently, Sancrucencis has defended his claim, made in his excellent lecture on the nature of freedom, that Descartes is the source of the modern conception of freedom. The reason for this is that Descartes advanced in an exemplary fashion a non-teleological conception of nature. The Cartesian claims we no longer inhabit a cosmos, a whole marked and formed by beneficent and beautiful order.

This non-teleological conception generates the basic problem of a defense, from first principles, of moral norms. Sancrucensis points us to Leo Strauss’s formulation in the opening of Natural Right and History. The original question issue is how we conceive of the whole: “From the point of view of Aristotle—and who could dare to claim to be a better judge in this matter than Aristotle?—the issue between the mechanical and the teleological conception of the universe is decided by the manner in which the problem of the…

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