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Templeton.org is in English. Only a few pages are translated into other languages.

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Overview

Investigating the nature and varieties of long-term directional trends and agential, goal-seeking processes in the natural world.

In the coming years, one of our priorities will be supporting research that seeks to clarify and test notions of apparent agential, goal-directed, and even purposive processes in the sciences.

We envision empirical and theoretical projects that will follow two broad streams:

  • Target-oriented behaviors. Many biotic and even some abiotic systems might be said to display “agentic behaviors” that appear to be self-correcting and target-oriented. How do such processes emerge, and how are they maintained? Are these behaviors best understood in terms of non-reductive explanations? Can purposive behaviors be conceptualized in rigorous ways that help to advance empirical investigations?
  • Long-term directional trends. The emergence of life is one of the biggest mysteries in science. Somehow, increases in molecular complexity lead to gains in information, self-regulation, autocatalytic efficiency, and robustness. How might the physical laws that govern the evolution of the cosmos support the emergence of life? Are there principles or constraints in nature that operate at the abiotic-biotic interface or give rise to directional trends in evolutionary transitions?

Featured Grants

Natural Sciences
Project Leader(s): Christopher Southgate, Niles Lehman
Grantee(s): University of Exeter
Natural Sciences
Project Leader(s): Sara Walker, Paul Davies
Grantee(s): Arizona State University Foundation for a New American University
Natural Sciences
Project Leader(s): Betul Kacar
Grantee(s): Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona
Natural Sciences
Project Leader(s): Jeff Hardin,
Grantee(s): University of Wisconsin-Madison
Natural Sciences
Project Leader(s): Robert Hazen, Robert Downs
Grantee(s): Carnegie Institution for Science
Natural Sciences
Project Leader(s): Adi Livnat, Karl Skorecki
Grantee(s): University of Haifa