Aristotle's Four Causes/Prime Mover - OCR Philosophy

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  • Created by: Isla
  • Created on: 20-04-14 14:40
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  • Aristotle's Four Causes
    • 1. The Material Cause
      • Asks the question "What is it made of?"
        • Let's take the example of a marble statue - What is it made of? - Marble!
    • 2. The Efficient Cause
      • Considers "Who made it?"
        • Continuing the situation with the marble statue, who made the marble statue? - The Sculptor did!
    • 3. The Formal Cause
      • Asks "What are the characteristics?"
        • The characteristics of the marble statue, (let's say it's of a human) would be 2 arms, 2 legs, and a head.
    • 4. The Final Cause
      • The Final Cause was the most important cause to Aristotle.
        • It asks, "What is its' purpose?" It is concerned with the telós of an object; the end purpose/final goal.
          • The telós of a marble statue would be perhaps admiration; to look at and admire.
      • The Prime Mover (Unmoved Mover)
        • The telós of a marble statue would be perhaps admiration; to look at and admire.
        • The Prime Mover was postulated by Aristotle when he considered the four causes of the Universe.
          • He became stuck on the Efficient Cause (Who made it?) and the Final Cause (What is its' purpose?)
            • Aristotle concluded that The Prime Mover must be God, and he must be the cause of the Universe; the Efficient Cause.
              • God must be the cause of all Actuality (see pink bubbles) in the Universe.
                • This is because he provides a great force which attracts all objects in the Universe, causing them to move and change.
                  • The Final Cause of movement is a desire for God; everything is drawn towards his perfection and wants to imitate it.
        • What is he like?
          • Eternal; he had/has to exist before, during and after the Universe.
          • Purely Spiritual; he is Immaterial (meaning he has no matter)
          • Outside time and space; cannot be affected by his actions
          • Unchanging; Aristotle claimed that something could only be perfect if it was permanent and unchanging.
          • Pure thoughts; cannot think of anything apart from Perfection (i.e. himself)
            • Perfectly good; absence of evil.
          • Provides a great force in which attracts objects/beings in the Universe, causing change and motion.
          • Lacks potential as he has already reached actuality.
          • Does not depend on anything for his existence.
    • How did Aristotle postulate the Four Causes?
      • Aristotle was concerned with why things in life existed. Therefore, he evaluated what made something a specific object.
        • Take, for instance, a cow. He believed that it was not only the matter of the cow that made it a cow but, the organisation and structural formation of the cow.
          • To make this clearer, Aristotle meant that the 'matter' of the cow, so flesh, blood, organs etc, is not what made it a cow. This is because other animals, perhaps a goat, is made of flesh, blood and organs too. Therefore, it cannot only be the recipe for a cow.
            • After realising that it was the structural formation that affected the object or being, Aristotle needed to explain what he meant by 'Form.' From this, he was able to postulate the Four Causes; The Material Cause, The Efficient Cause, The Formal Cause and The Final Cause.


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