The spectacle of the universe becomes so much the grander, so much more beautiful, the worthier of its Author, when one knows that a small number of laws, most wisely established, suffice for all movements. Pierre Louis Maupertuis (1744) Among the more or less general laws, the discovery of which characterize the development of physical science during the last century, the principle of Least Action is at present certainly one which, by its form and comprehensiveness, may be said to have approached most closely to the ideal aim of theoretical inquiry. Its significance, properly understood, extends, not only to mechanical processes, but also to thermal and electrodynamic problems. In all the branches of science to which it applies, it gives, not only an explanation of certain characteristics of phenomena at present encountered, but [...]
The least action principle is an expression of teleological reasoning where the initial states of the system are determined by the endpoints—the beginning and the end.
…Thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which thou shalt bring in from thy land that the Lord thy G‑d giveth thee; and thou shalt put it in a basket and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy G‑d shall choose to cause His name to dwell there. And thou shalt come unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him: 'I profess this day unto the Lord thy G‑d, that I am come unto the land which the Lord swore unto our fathers to give us.' And the priest shall take the basket out of thy hand, and set it down before the altar of the Lord thy G‑d. Deuteronomy 26:2-4 The debate about the nature of matter goes back [...]