Aristotle: Cause and Purpose

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  • Aristotle: Cause and Purpose in relation to God.
    • Four Causes
      • 1. The Material: the matter that something is made from.
      • 2. The Formal: what gives the matter it's structure or form.
      • 3. The Efficient: the cause of the object existing.
      • 4. The Final: the reason why something is the way that it is (the function of the object, telos)
    • Teleological
      • Everything has a purpose.
      • Everything has the potential (potentiality) to fulfil its purpose.
        • The potentiality is actualised by motion.
          • Everything brought about by motion and change.
      • Telos can be frustrated e.g tadpole could be eaten by predator before it turns into a frog.
    • Prime Mover
      • The unchanging cause of everything that exists.
      • An infinite series of causes is impossible = unmoved mover.
      • Necessary existence.
      • It is the final cause - ultimate explanation.
    • Link to God
      • Aristotle links the Prime Mover to God.
        • Completely different from the Christian God.
      • Aristotle's God does not think about the universe and what happens in it - that would mean God changes, as his knowledge would change.
      • Aristotle's God is simply an eternal, transcendent and impersonal.


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