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The Teleology of Action in Plato's Republic$
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Andrew Payne

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198799023

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198799023.001.0001

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Varieties of Teleology

Varieties of Teleology

(p.1) 1 Varieties of Teleology
The Teleology of Action in Plato's Republic

Andrew Payne

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the teleological claims made by Plato in his writings, according to which an event or action or natural phenomenon occurs for the sake of some end. Students of ancient philosophy have identified two varieties of teleology: intentional teleology and the teleology of nature. These varieties of teleology do not allow us to understand two important teleological claims present in Plato’s writing. In the ascent passage of the Symposium, the lover of the ascent acts for the sake of understanding the Form of Beauty. In the image of the Cave in the Republic, a prisoner ascends from the cave for the sake of seeing the sun. To understand these cases of acting for the sake of an end that is not intended as a goal, a third variety of teleology is needed. This variety centers on the performance of functions or characteristic activities in the course of action.

Keywords:   intentional teleology, functional teleology, natural teleology, Cave, Form of Beauty, Form of the Good

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