Life's Purpose


When we ask, 'Is there a purpose to my life,' is that the same as asking about purpose to all life? Do bacteria have purposes? Is there purpose in the universe writ large? These are questions about teleology. In this course, we consider what teleology is, how it works in organisms (& other systems, like self-driving cars). Historical investigation from Aristotle to Darwin and modern texts. Examines how teleology has influenced biology, how advances in biology have affected teleological thinking in areas from metaphysics to ethics, and implications for purposes in our own lives. Recommended prerequisite: college-level biology or philosophy course or instructor consent.
Curriculum Codes
  • EI
  • STS
  • CZ
Cross-Listed As
  • BIOLOGY 516S
Typically Offered