Chicken or the Egg argument.

TLDR update

Is the ability to reason, which is required to understand our surroundings (as explained with science below), proof of reason existing prior to our own reason? I'm following Aristotle's concept of Efficient and Final Cause and Plato's concept of True Forms. What is the True Form of intelligence? What is the Final Cause of intelligence? Is it merely evolution? Or is intelligence the final cause of evolution, which was used to produce the efficient cause [evolution] of consciousness in humans? I gather it might have been purposeful if you ponder the 4 causes.

If evolution is the efficient cause, is there a true form of intelligence that evolution is mimicking?

Original Post

First, a quote by Aristotle, "If, therefore, purpose is present in art, it is present also in nature."

Kind of like cause and effect. But on an intellectual level.

Following Aristotle's 4 types of causes. If science is the efficient cause of humans, who is science's Final Cause, or the intent of science? If we are the afterthought of a design of the creator who implemented science to create us, same as a sculpturer is the efficient cause of a statue, but the final cause is the concept the sculpturer has of which he is trying to imbue into this statue. The cognitive memory, or intent. Humans can serve as the intent of science.

So carrying that forward to ourselves, and our own intelligence. Our intelligence is the efficient cause of being human, of the affect of being placed within the universe by the universe's own mechanisms, and we have become aware and can understand our surroundings. As I have previously mentioned, the efficient cause is science, but what is the final cause of science?

So that begs the question, at least in my opinion, who asked the question of science that produced the ordered system of scientific results (applying Socrates reasoning here by asking questions)?

We find that we asked the question ourselves, through logic and deductive reasoning; given to us not by ourselves, but by the laws of the Universe having produced us. We are able to shed light on the subject. However, that light is only us understanding the logical order of the universe as exposed by science.

TLDR So... if science is seen to have a conceptual order to it. Doesn't that order beg the question to require intelligence to understand it; and therefore could be argued required intelligence to have it implemented (same as the final cause and the statue)? Couldn't the laws of science and it's resultant movement be regarded as the divine, for it is the reason we all have life and thought?

I guess a shorter question is. Can science be the efficient cause of ourselves existing, can we therefore ask what is the Final cause of science?

Or, can order be present without intelligence to present it, does our ability to reason demand a purpose...?

One obvious answer:

Is it simply enough to say that it has just been [science]. Science's requirement of requiring intelligent life to make sense of it does not necessitate intelligence to have supplied it [science].

That I think would be a logical fallacy in it's own right. It's like saying a room full of chimpanzees (the random universe) has a [small] chance of alphabetizing a list for us [the alphabetized list is the efficient cause, which can be translated to us human beings]. Even if we did see the list alphabetized. We would reason the chimpanzees had some sort of intelligence to have done so rather than attribute it to some random chance event.

So again, seeing human's exist in a universe being able to reason is almost like seeing an alphabetized list and asking oneself who made the alphabetized list. Who made this construct of applied reason? Am I to believe that the random machinations of entropy can produce intelligence without any type of plan to do so, or is science a natural producer of intelligence because it was designed that way.

Update To respond to Einer

Thanks for the watchmaker analagy.

Richard Dawkins. Yes. I remember him. He seemed hard set to PROVE GOD didn't' exist. That's why I never read his book. I honestly don't care whether he exists or all, but whether my consciousness exists. But that's my bias.

So Richard's answer is... the sign of intelligence a bike... is the construction of another sign of intelligence, some other person that made the bike...

So is mine.

Anyways, his plane analogy doesn't take into consideration 1 final mover over an initial perpetual state that continues. Richard posits that the plane required another initial mover. That's not the case with our supposed closed system of the universe. Everything was set by the initial mover. Aka predeterminism.

Argument over on that point.

"But this goes for every imaginable sets of laws of physics."

(Edit: NM: Following Uniformitarianism (as applied to science)... (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniformitarianism))

Assuming the laws that we have endured led us to this point. Is it safe to assume that those laws represent the Final Cause's Purpose? The Final Cause's Intent?

Can we argue that Aristotle's concept of Final Cause is broken when it applies to concepts outside of human behaviour? Or does human behaviour show that intelligence does indeed cause change and it can be argued that change was started from intelligence?

Which is my point. It's the way it is to derive us, and when we "awake" and evolve enough as a society to understand. It is then and only then that we understand it took us this long to achieve that understanding that the [purpose] laws of the universe are in place to produce intelligence enough to understand how they came to be. One could argue that this is pointless to all those lives gone without understanding this.

I think Socrates was onto something when he suggested our consciousness survives, but that's a stretch and not really part of my argument.

The evidence is almost in front of us everyday. Whether we realize it or not. The fact that we are even here is an astronomical anomaly. My guess is... it was set that way on purpose, which is my argument for the Final Cause.

  • 4
    Your question is confusing because of the backwards sentence order. You say things like "a statue is the efficient cause of a sculpturer" where you should say "a scupturer is the efficient cause of a statue". The scupturer causes the statue, not visa-versa.
    – AndrewC
    Sep 28, 2014 at 17:03
  • I tried to clean up the poor cause references Sep 29, 2014 at 2:40
  • 3
    You also seem to confuse science, which is the product of humans, with intrinsic properties of the universe.
    – nir
    Sep 29, 2014 at 6:38
  • 2
    The "order" is a human concept, we see order because it is our way to make sense of things. It comes from the subjects, not from the universe in itself. Human intelligence and order accompany each other simply because what appears to us as "order" is a necessary condition for human formation of knowledge, and science is the most concentrated form of it plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-science/#PhyCriPerMetFouNatSci
    – Conifold
    Sep 29, 2014 at 20:46

2 Answers 2


Let's assume you find a alphabetically ordered list of names. Now let's shuffle the list, and check it again: Now it happens to be ordered by income of the persons on the list. We shuffle again and accidentally now it is ordered by age. Another round: Now it's ordered first by gender and then alphabetically. You will hardly find an order of the list so that it is not ordered by something and be it something remote like total number of hamburgers eaten. So if you give a list to a monkey, it will be incapable of not ordering the items. So before we can infer an intelligent orderer we must define, what "ordered" means. Otherwise we commit a Texas sharpshooter fallacy.

The same applies with the universe. First we need to ask: What does "ordered" mean in regards to "laws of physics"? Your answer appears to be rather arbitrary: Laws that allows for developing intelligent beings. Or, to put it differently: The exact laws we have (since our laws are those that allowed for intelligent beings). So by "order" you mean: "The way the laws are". In the list-analogy it is, as if you find a list and ask yourself: "Why are the items exactly listed in the order of the list? That can't be by accident!" I can't address that question, but the question has now lost it's miraculous aspect. It's simply: "Why are the laws the way they are?" That we don't know. But this goes for every imaginable sets of laws of physics. It would always be a list ordered in the order of the list - and a thusly "ordered" list would not indicate an "intelligent orderer". Every list is ordered in the order of that list.

When I understood the question correctly, it is a variant of the watchmaker analogy, that was proposed by William Paley: If you find a watch outdoors, would you think, it's just a product of nature, or is it more prudent to think that it is men-made? In analogy: When we find a highly complex creature (us) wouldn't it be prudent to assume a creator? Richard Dawkins argued against this. What we want, is to explain something unlikely (us). To that end we need something less unlikely - otherwise we just decreased the likelihood of the whole system. E.g. if you wonder, why your bike hangs up in a tree, it is reasonable to think, your evil neighbor hung it there to annoy you. If you introduce something that is even more unlikely than your bike in a tree (e.g. bike-in-trees-hanging aliens) you now have to explain an even more unlikely system (the bike itself is now explained but how about the aliens?) So if we assume a being like a world-creator, we can explain why there are so complex beings. But we are moving in the wrong direction of likelihood - if you accept that an almighty deity is less likely than a human*. So this is not the most plausible assumption to explain the complexity, but it is less plausible than the complexity itself.

Maybe Dawkins argument is not convincing, but it shows, that Paley only proposed a possible methodology when dealing with implausible things. You can also argue for the opposite and since both are only arguing for methodologies there is only a "better" and "worse" and no "true" or "false". Being methodologies, truth-preserving or "truth-producing" is neither of them.

*This is a crucial point, and obviously not everyone will buy it.

  • I don't fully grasp the OP's question, aber ich weiss nicht wessen seine Antwoerte ist fuer die richtige Fraege. 1) Als Aristotle, alles sind mit einer leztze Teleologie gewuerden. Darum fuer Aristotle alles geht zum die Letzte. But maybe he meant to ask the question you answered. It's hard to tell.
    – virmaior
    Sep 29, 2014 at 13:58
  • @virmaior Nice German ;-)! Yes it is hard to tell! I'm not sure myself, I answered this question. But I felt there were two questions here and I decided to go for the one I understand better.
    – Einer
    Sep 29, 2014 at 14:08
  • 1
    It's been decades. I'm sorry for butchering your language!
    – virmaior
    Sep 29, 2014 at 14:12
  • There are n! orderings in a list of size n. You are hard pressed to find anywhere near n! things that are common to order by if n is more than a couple. Thus, the mathematics here does not work out the way you suggest.
    – Rex Kerr
    Sep 29, 2014 at 17:58
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    @RexKerr Every order corresponds to an ordering. I hope that's what I've been saying all along - also I hope that's what my examples implied. The list ordered in the order of the list was (I hope) exactly in analogy to OPs formulation concerning the set of laws. I didn't want to mislead anyone!
    – Einer
    Sep 30, 2014 at 7:24

Things are the way they are due to the nature of their causes.

The question, why is there order? is in other words, why isn't there disorder?. But why does there have to be order? The human mind finds patterns, the order in things. These patterns, order and disorder are constructs. It is not things that care about appearing orderly to humans. They just exist the way they exist.

It is possible that order might mean something else entirely to another sapient species whose perception we can not perceive.

  • I made an edit to help clarify the answer. You may roll this back or further edit as you feel appropriate. Do you have references to others who think the same way you do? Such references would support your answer and make it less of an opinion and more a reporting on what those others have said. It would also give the reader somewhere to go for more information. Jun 25, 2018 at 11:39
  • @FrankHubeny No, I do not have references. I was making the argument. Sorry, I am not familiar with the norms in this forum.. Are references generally expected?
    – Rohit
    Jun 25, 2018 at 12:18
  • 1
    Many don't provide references. Your post showed up on a review queue since you are new here. I am suggesting ways to strengthen your answers. Welcome to the SE. Jun 25, 2018 at 12:51
  • pure noise (disorder) imo would never result in intelligent self awareness Jun 27, 2018 at 17:36

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