Teleology in Theophrastus’ Metaphysics

Jakub Jirsa

The paper argues that Theophrastus’ Metaphysics does not present the author’s own views about the teleological principles of reality. Its structure, as well as the use of particular examples, rather suggest that, in accordance with ancient testimony, it merely puts forsth several preliminary problems faced by each and any attempt at a metaphysical explanation. The main focus of the paper is the ninth chapter of the Metaphysics, where Theophrastus discusses problems connected to natural teleology. Pace a good number of modern authors (most notably Jim Lennox and Luciana Repici), the article shows that Theophrastus neither criticizes nor develops Aristotle’s notion of natural teleology; on the contrary, he merely puts to view some problems with an overly general monistic view of purposiveness in our world.