The Brill Dictionary of Religion

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(420 words)

The word ‘teleology,’ formed from the Greek télos (‘end,’ ‘goal,’ ‘purpose,’ ‘completion’) and lógos (‘word,’ ‘reason,’ ‘teaching’), was originally a coinage by philosopher Christian Wolff (1679–1754). His neologism was based on the thought of the ‘purpose,’ or ‘final cause’ of a thing, which Aristotle had conceptualized in a framework of his doctrine of the four causes. Accordingly, the point of departure of teleological thought is the goal-direc…

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Hartmann, Georg, “Teleology”, in: The Brill Dictionary of Religion, Edited by Kocku von Stuckrad. Consulted online on 21 January 2021 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004124332, 20051223

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