As far as I understand, phenomenology suggests that all concrete objects are investigated not as they stand (noumena) but as phenomena. This investigation depends on consciousness intentionality (Husserl, see SEP entry https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/husserl/).

Given a scientific study that tries to find a solution to a specific problem, I wonder if the notion of final cause or teleology (See Aristotle on causality: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-causality/) could be linked to the notion of intentionality?

The final cause is defined as “the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done”, which is, according to me, somehow embedded in the scientific problem and drives the scientific research as well as the researcher's intentions.

Please consider that I am not mistaking the final cause of the research and the final cause of the topic being investigated even that they should be convergent. For instance, the final cause of penicillin is to kill bacteria, the final cause of a research on penicillin could be to cure bacterial infections.

Consequently, has there been in philosophy a resurgence of the final cause following the introduction of phenomenology, especially in scientific research?

  • Science is not well characterized by "tries to find a solution to a specific problem." Rather it tries to test a particular hypothesis. A well designed experiment will decide between the truth or falseness of a hypothesis. "I found these long-round things, and they all burned." (Shows sticks, baseball bats, broom sticks.) "Here is another long-round thing, let's see if it burns." (Puts icicle in fire.) "Ooops! Not all long-round things burn." That is the nature of science.
    – puppetsock
    Feb 4, 2020 at 17:19
  • 2
    Not really. You are probably confusing the colloquial meaning of "intention" with phenomenological "intentionality". The latter has little to do with intentions (in the usual sense), final causes or goals of research(ers). It is about directedness of phenomenological acts at objects they are "about". Teleology did receive more attention recently, especially in philosophy of biology, but not in relation to phenomenological intentionality.
    – Conifold
    Feb 5, 2020 at 1:24
  • @Conifold I don't think I am confused, but the "has little to do" confuses me, so maybe I am. How could a goal/use/final cause be set without intentionality? Perhaps, it can't for but you mean that intentionality concerns absolutely every object? But relatively, among the 4 causes, the final one expresses a subjective meaning according to intentions and, in science, it drives research that will consciously or unconsciously update intentions. I meant by "embedded" that goals and phenomenological perceptions are interdependent and constantly updating each other through research in science.
    – Delforge
    Feb 13, 2020 at 9:17
  • In addition, when I read philosophy.stackexchange.com/q/37368/42664, I see the importance of final cause regarding the question of intentionality, and when "x means y to z" expresses z intentions, I see "a bronze statue means art to Aristotle". That is the link I see between final cause and phenomenology and I am wondering about Philosophers that attempt to discuss both topics together.
    – Delforge
    Feb 13, 2020 at 10:01
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    I do not think that the final cause expresses subjective meaning according to intentions or drives research in science. What you say doesn't sound familiar to me, but I did not follow phenomenology of science closely. You may want to read IEP, Phenomenology and Natural Science to see if anything clicks. One scientist that favored phenomenology is Polanyi. Marjorie Grene was influenced by both Aristotle and Polanyi in her philosophy of biology. Compton and Heelan wrote on PoS more recently.
    – Conifold
    Feb 13, 2020 at 12:04


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