Is There a Purpose in the Universe?June 28, 2021
The views on the reason for the existence of existence create a new topic of discussion in the philosophy of being. This is the discussion of whether there is a purposefulness in the universe, or whether it is possible to talk about a purposefulness in the universe.
Discussions of purposefulness in the universe involve the formation of beings on the one hand and how beings affect each other. The purposefulness of the universe can also be considered as a binding effect on the whole of the universe or as the basis of the movements of individual beings (to explain formation and change).
Discussions on whether there is purposefulness in the universe are grouped under two subheadings:
Theological (faith) debates
Cosmological (cosmology) debates
Intentional Theological Debates
Views of God’s creation or design form the center of theological debates about purposefulness in the universe. Ideas about the existence of God turn into ideas about whether there is a purpose in the universe. The acceptance of God provides the formation of a system that explains the formation and change of beings. In all belief structures where there is belief in God, God is considered as the main cause of existence (God created consciously, that is, existing things were created pre-designed).
Cosmological Debates on Purpose
The second part in the discussion of purposiveness in the universe; can be grouped under the title of cosmological, spiritualist and humanist explanations. There is the idea that the existent has a certain will and mental structure due to its soul and spirit.
Mechanistic Understanding of the Universe
The opposite of cosmological and theological ideas about purposefulness in the universe is the idea of mechanism. According to the mechanistic understanding, beings are shaped as a result of the laws of physics in the universe. Even life is the result of such power. Therefore, it cannot be said that they are purpose-oriented, created with a certain design, or that they act with certain purposes in mind.
According to the mechanistic understanding, beings are shaped as a result of the laws of physics in the universe.
Related topic: What is a mechanism?
Aristotle’s Conception of the Universe
Aristotle states that the changing of beings does not necessarily change their essence. By preserving the essence of beings, claiming that they are changing in line with a certain purpose; explains matter and form (form) concepts. It states that every visible being is matter that has gained form. In his view, matter transforms into its new form when it takes form. If the new one takes a form, it turns into another shape. This is an ongoing process and takes place with a specific purpose.
Related topic: What is the teaching of the four reasons?
Aristotle explained the purposeful change of beings through the cause-effect relationship. Assets are formed by the effect of four causes. These; material, formal, perpetrator and final causes. The purposiveness of the change includes the purposive reason. For example, there is a vase made of plaster for flowers. The substance of the vase is plaster, and plaster is its material cause. The shaped form of the plaster is the formal cause. The artist who turns it into a vase is the cause. The reason is that the vase was made for flowers.
Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Grade 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and “Introduction to Sociology” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Other Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM), MEB Philosophy Textbook