entelechy?

Stan Lindsay slindsa at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 31 23:09:41 EST 2001


Hi Dan,

The confusion seems to be in equating telos with
entelechy.  Telos is a dunamis, a potential.  For
Aristotle there are four of these potentials (causes
of change--telos (final cause), arche (beginning or
efficient cause), hule (material cause), and eidos
(formal cause).  The telos of a kernel of corn, once
it has sprouted, is the fully grown stalk with blades,
tassels, husks, and ears of corn with new, fully
developed kernels on the cob.  But the entelechy is
the process itself.  It begins in the seed as it
begins to grow.  The entelechy ends when the plant
stops growing, but a new entelechy is about to begin
with each of the new corn kernels on the cob.

All of the potentials or causes exist without
reference to the process of entelechy.  But, once
entelechy begins the four causes of kinesis are all
called into play.  They are all implicit in the
growing organism for example.  Once telos is reached,
the process (and hence entelechy) stops.  It will
start again in a new entelechy.  Entelechy means
having one's telos implicit in the process.  This is
not random motion or change; it is purposeful
change--it is change with the end always implicit in
the process.  The "inseparable" point is true enough
from the standpoint of entelechy--you cannot have an
entelechy without a telos.  However, from the
standpoint of telos, it is not true--you can have a
telos without the process of entelechy.

The word "determines" works in describing Aristotelian
biological entelechy.  The growth of the kernel of
corn is "determined."  But in Aristotelian "human"
entelechies such as "shipbuilding" and in Burkean
"symbolic" entelechy, "determinism" does not apply. 
Burkean "free will" does not permit determinism in
"action."  Yet, Burke thinks the term entelechy works
better in the "symbolic" sense than it does in the
"biological" sense.

Stan Lindsay
Florida State University
slindsa at yahoo.com
http://www.stanlindsay.com

--- Dan Smith <dls216 at psu.edu> wrote:
> 
> >The problem with Blakesley's and Smith's
> definitions
> >is that a "potentiality" for Aristotle is a
> dunamis,
> >not an entelecheia.  
> 
> You're right, entelecheia and dunamis are not the 
> same thing .  However, as Burke is using the term, 
> a thing's inner telos, it's entelechy,  'determines'
> what 
> it could or should be/do (in the future)--that is,
> its potential.
> The two, it seems to me, are distinct but
> inseparable.
> Isn't that what you're saying?  Or am I missing
> something?
> 
> Dan Smith
> Penn State University
> Department of English
> 116 Burrowes Building
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Aristotle makes the distinction
> >between these two terms.  David Koresh, Jim Jones,
> and
> >Islamic terrorists are examples of the Frankenstein
> >sense of the term.  When people believe so strongly
> >that a disasterous end is coming that they must
> bring
> >that end into existence in order to be fulfilled,
> they
> >are operating under the influence of what I call in
> >Chapter 8 of my book "psychotic entelechy."
> >
> >Stan A. Lindsay, Ph.D.
> >Department of Communication
> >Florida State University
> >slindsa at yahoo.com
> >http://www.stanlindsay.com
> >
> >--- Dan Smith <dls216 at psu.edu> wrote:
> >> As far as I know, it's pronounced en-tell-ekee. 
> >> Aristotle 'coined',
> >> the word entelechia (in the Physics, I
> >> think)--en[in]   
> >> teles[movement toward finishedness] echia [from
> >> echon, 
> >> having or to have]--to indicate (as Burke
> mentions) 
> >> the internal telos of something.  
> >> 
> >> While I think Professor Blakesley's take on it is
> >> interesting, I don't think 
> >> entelechy can be restricted to Aristotle's notion
> of
> >> hylomorphic processes, 
> >> inasmuch as a thing that has form still has an
> inner
> >> telos that its strives to
> >> achieve.  
> >> I'd define it as an inner potentiality that
> prompts
> >> the actualization of
> >> something's
> >> end, or "perfection."  However, I haven't yet
> read
> >> Blakesley's book, so I lack
> >> the 
> >> context that surrounds his definition of the
> term.
> >> 
> >> As for the Frankenstein principle (Happy
> Halloween,
> >> btw), I don't think it's 
> >> a matter that humans will do anything that is
> >> possible but rather that 
> >> symbols have inner teloi, which 'demand' their
> users
> >> to achieve the
> >> finishedness 
> >> or perfection intrinsic to a term.  As Burke has
> >> shown, this causes all sorts 
> >> of problems--thus we are "rotten with
> perfection."
> >> 
> >> Dan Smith
> >> Penn State University
> >> Department of English
> >> 116 Burrowes
> >> 
> >> 
> >> At 01:53 PM 10/31/01 -0600, Irene Ward wrote: 
> >> >
> >> > Dear all, 
> >> >  
> >> > How do you pronounce "entelechy"?  en tell lek
> >> kee?
> >> >  
> >> > I've found several different definitions of
> this
> >> work.  Blakesley defines it
> >> > in his glossary as "an inner potentiality to
> make
> >> matter into form." 
> >> >  
> >> > Burke, "The Human Factor: Definition of Man,"
> >> defines it as "'possession of
> >> > telos within'" or "the notion that each being
> aims
> >> at the perfeection
> >> natural
> >> > to it's kind" . . . . "a principle of
> perfection
> >> implicit in the nature of
> >> > symbol systems; and in keeping with his nature
> as
> >> symbol using animal" 
> >> > (Gusfield, p 71). 
> >> >  
> >> > Do I remember reading elsewhere that is a sort
> of
> >> "Frankenstien" principle: 
> >> > If it seems possible to do, humans will do it,
> >> even if it may not be in
> >> their
> >> > best interests, for instance, if you can make
> an
> >> atomic bomb, or bring the
> >> > dead back to life humans will pursue it to it's
> >> end. 
> >> >  
> >> > Best,
> >> > Irene Ward
> >> > English--Kansas State Univ
> >> > 785-532-2152
> >> > <mailto:iward at ksu.edu>iward at ksu.edu
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >
> >
> >__________________________________________________
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> >http://personals.yahoo.com
> > 


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