Aristotle's theory of Causation

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  • Aristotle's theory of Causation
    • Used to explain objects and identify objects
      • Counteracts Plato's dualistic theory of the forms
    • Aristotle was an empiricist (believed our senses could tell us about the world)
    • The Doctrine of 4 Causes
      • 1) Material cause
        • This is the matter or substance that something is made from. Matter exists in itself already.
          • A car's material cause is metal and plastic
      • 2. Efficient Cause
        • The efficient cause is the cause and existence of an object
          • The efficient cause of a car is the designer and inovater who create and design the the car in the image they create
      • 3. Formal Cause
        • The formal cause is the characteristics of an object, the shape, marks, what its used for etc
          • The formal cause of a car is it's individual parts like mirrors, the car's shape, windows etc
      • 4. Final Cause
        • Concerned with the the function of an object
          • The final cause of a car is transport from one place to another
        • Teleological
    • 4 distinctions
      • 1. Substance
        • The substance is something which exists in it's own right like metal
          • Some substances are made up of lots of different things
            • E.g. a car is made up of a mixture of metals, plastic, wood, glass, rubber and leather.
      • 2. Accident
        • Accidents are aspects that cannot exist independently
      • 3. Matter
        • Matter is the stuff of which something was made e.g. glass on a car windscreen
      • 4. Form
        • The form of the car itself
    • Actuality and Potentiality
      • A substance is actually in a certain state e.g. wood
        • The wood has the potential to be a table but it is actually just wood
    • Irreversible changes.
      • Some things have irreversible changes like wood being burnt into ash
      • The wood would've reached it's full potential when burnt to ash
        • Things which achieve their full potential are said to be fully actualized and have achieved their telos.
          • This is called flourishing or eudaimonia
    • Prime mover
      • The prime mover is an unmoved mover that has caused everything else to exist
      • The prime mover is refered to by Aristotle as the final final (not a typo) cause
      • Has matter/substance yet has no form
        • It is fully actualised giving it no efficient cause and no telos.


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