Thu 2 Apr, 2009 04:03 am
Can anyone give me a site that gives a BRIEF analysis of the teleological argument and the relevant similarities and dissimilarities in the analogy?
I don't know if the idea will be of any interest to you, but in the long view, Paley is getting credit for a singularly unoriginal idea. In England, and well within the knowledge of the Reverend Paley and his contemporaries was the statement against this argument by John Locke--which could only have been argued by Locke if it were already a well known and generally accepted thesis. The argument was advanced and defended by George Berkeley a century before Paley, while Berkeley stated that Locke's argument inevitably lead to atheism (a thought one assumes Berkeley expected to be greeted with horror, and one which he apparently felt was a conclusive condemnation). A half century after Berkeley, David Hume argues both for and against the thesis, ultimately accepting the teleological argument because the mid-18th century could offer no plausible alternative explanation (which seems a pretty damned feeble basis for argument to me--i suspect Hume knew his contemporaries only too well).
And the argument was not new then, either. In the late 12th and early 13th century, Muslim scholars and Christians scholastics were formulating and arguing (only for the sake of refining the concept) the teleological argument, most notably among the Christians by Thomas Aquinas. And they were not original either--more than two thousand years ago, Cicero advances the argument very nearly identically with Paley, only he makes reference to a sun dial, as watches did not then exist.
Paley only becomes significant in reference to his temporal and cultural milieu. Lamarck had advanced the first primitive version of a theory of evolution less than 20 years previously, and Lamarck had been anticipated by others, whose theses were more vague and imprecise than Larmarck's, which was itself superceded and falsified by Darwin and Wallace's theory. Before Lamarck published, Erasmus Darwin had advanced a theory of "associationism" (not an original idea with him, either) which he applied to botany and zoology. Paley was speaking for a world of well-educated, but doctrinally hide-bound men in his articulation of a very old argument, in a society which felt that the basic certainties of their world, as well as the institution of religion were under attack.
By the way, Robert Hooke first articulated the specific "watchmaker" argument in the mid-17th century, and it was to this that Locke was responding, which lead to Berkeley's argument against Locke, and Hume's examination of the concept. There is truly nothing new under the sun. If this is for school, don't quote me, i'm doing it from memory. You can easily look these people up, though. The most well-known Muslim scholar who articulated the idea was an Andalusian gentleman named (i think) Ibn Rashid, or Ibn Rushid. If you were to use any of this for school, you'd want to look all of these people up to get exact names, dates and citations.
what an intelligently designed question about yesterday
The watchmaker explanation is a poor analogy for biological complexity. For living organisms, characteristics are inherited over generations through biological reproduction. This is not true of non-living objects such as watches.
at the moment, for my AS philosophy course, i am studying the teleological argument and paley and his watch analogy.
i think its a brilliant answer and explanation to how things come about, whether its linked with the universe or not.
but i guess, everyone has their individual ideas about his discussion.
reading all of these posts has helped me with my essay.