Teleological causality

The usual way of thinking about the world is that it’s made out of tiny dead particles that move around randomly without any purpose. Eventually, through random chance, these particles move in such a way that they create these little pieces of meat that have a brain, and in some poorly understood way, the brain gives rise to what we call consciousness. Within consciousness, there are representations of physical objects—except of course the representations are not the same as the particles themselves (they are too small to see!), but are actually some kind of abstract object that is created inside the brain.

What I will call teleological causality is the view that effects pull on their causes, so to speak. Or in other words, that what we call “effects” are really causes, and that what we call “causes” are really effects. This is how meaning exists: the meaning of everything is the ultimate effect (that is, cause), and therefore everything comes into being to facilitate this meaning. (When I say “ultimate” I do not mean to imply that reality is in any way finite—it’s just a metaphor.) The alternative is that meaning is at some step created out of nothing, which we know from physics is impossible.

In a dream, I can conduct a scientific experiment that will show everything to be made of atoms. Does that mean that things that happen in dreams are the result of dream-atoms colliding randomly and giving rise to dream-phenomena? It seems to me rather that the phenomena come first, and to the extent that atoms are indeed observable (directly or indirectly) in dreams, it is in fact the atoms that are being caused by the phenomena. The randomness is illusory whereas the meaning is primary. (This is also the Platonist view: the objects themselves exist first, and then they give rise to their representations.)