It cannot be said that previously to Darwin there had been any very profound study of teleology, but it had been the delight of a certain type of mind - that of the lovers of nature or naturalists par excellence, as they were sometimes termed - to watch the habits of living animals and plants, and to point out the remarkable ways in which the structure of each variety of organic life was adapted to the special circumstances of life of the variety or species.
- The lore of the farmer, gardener, sportsman, fancier and field-naturalist, including thremmatology, or the science of breeding, and the allied teleology, or science of organic adaptations: exemplified by the patriarch Jacob, the poet Virgil, Sprengel, Kirby.
But this phraseology soon disappears, without his considering how, in default of some sort of teleology, it is legitimate to treat the world's history as a process.
Nor is the variety of its forms imposed upon it from without; there is neither external teleology in nature, nor mechanism in the narrower sense.
But with the decline of dogmatic belief and the spread of religious doubt - as the special sciences also grow more general, and the natural sciences become more speculative about matter and force, evolution and teleology - men begin to wonder again about the nature and origin of things, just as it was the decay of polytheism in Greek religion and his own discoveries in natural science which impelled Aristotle to metaphysical questions.
At the same time it is a curious attempt to restore mechanism and reconcile it with teleology by using the word " mechanism " in a new meaning, according to which God performs His own reciprocal actions within Himself by uniform laws, which are also means to divine ends.
Aesthetics, or the scientific consideration of the judgments resting on the feelings of pleasure and pain arising from the harmony or want of harmony between the particular of experience and the laws of understanding, is the special subject of the Kritik of Judgment, but the doctrine of teleology there unfolded is the more important for the complete view of the critical system.
But this, since it arises from the moral order as a unity grounded in the very essence of freedom and not accidentally instituted by external commands, establishes the teleology of nature on grounds which a priori must be inseparably connected with the inner possibility of things.
Darwin's introduction of thremmatology into the domain of scientific biology was accompanied by a new and special development of a branch of study which had previously been known as teleology, the study of the adaptation of organic structures to the service of the organisms in which they occur.
Teleology in this form of the doctrine of design was never very deeply rooted amongst scientific anatomists and systematists.
Teleology had, indeed, an important part in the development of physiology - the knowledge of the mechanism, the physical and chemical properties, of the parts of the body of man and the higher animals allied to him.
But, as applied to lower and more obscure forms of life, teleology presented alfnost insurmountable difficulties; and consequently, in place of exact experiment and demonstration, the most reckless though ingenious assumptions were made as to the utility of the parts and organs of lower animals.
The modern theory of evolution, on the other hand, has reintroduced a scientific teleology of another type.
Teleology, in this narrower sense, as the study of the adaptation of organic structures to the service of the organisms in which they occur, was completely revolutionized by Darwinism and the research founded on it.
Yet, in its characteristic religion and legislation there are essential spiritual and ethical peculiarities which give it a uniqueness and a permanent value, the reality of which becomes more impressive when the Old Testament is viewed, not merely from a Christian or a Jewish teleology, but in the light of ancient, medieval and modern Palestine.
The teleology of nature is thus made to rest on a transcendental theology, which takes the ideal of supreme ontological perfection as a principle of systematic unity, a principle which connects all things according to universal and necessary natural laws, since they all have their origin in the absolute necessity of a single primal being" (p. 538).
Those who were unwilling to accept evolution, without better grounds than such as are offered by Lamarck, and who therefore preferred to suspend their judgment on the question, found in the principle of selective breeding, pursued in all its applications with marvellous knowledge and skill by Darwin, a valid explanation of the occurrence of varieties and races; and they saw clearly that, if the explanation would apply to species, it would not only solve the problem of their evolution, but that it would account for the facts of teleology, as well as for those of morphology; and for the persistence of some forms of life unchanged through long epochs of time, while others undergo comparatively rapid metamorphosis.