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Michael Polanyi criticized the neo-Darwinian synthesis on two grounds: that accidental hereditary changes bringing adaptive advantages cannot account for the rise of discontinuous new species, and that a Ideological ordering principle is needed to explain evolutionary advance. I commend the previous articles by John Apczynski and Richard Gelwick and also argue, more strongly than they, that Polanyi's critique of evolutionary theory is flawed. It relies on an inappropriate notion of progress and untenable analogies from the human process of scientific discovery and the fact that in physical systems minimal potential energy is most stable. Yet within a life of commitment to transcendent values humans can directly experience purpose and meaning, and in developing this notion Polanyi makes his greatest contribution to teleology.
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Keywords: Michael Polanyi; evolution; field theory; organizing and ordering principles; religious satisfactions; teleology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Walter B. Gulick is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Humanities and Religious Studies, Montana State University-Billings, Billings, MT 59101;, Email:

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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