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Aristotle (384-322BC)
Both a critic and a pupil of Plato. He both developed and dismissed Plato's ideas.
The development of potentiality into actuality for Aristotle provided a basis from which to discuss
the beginnings of all things, including existence itself.
Aristotle explained that the movement from potential to actual in terms of the causes that act on all
things. He suggested that there were 4 causes.
1. The Material Cause- the things out of which an object is created (house=bricks, wood, glass
2. The Efficient Cause- the way in which an object is created (house=digging. Completing
brickwork, laying foundations)
3. The Formal Cause- the expression, idea or plan that led to the creation of an object
(house=design or architect design)
4. The Final Cause- the aim for which an object is created (house=for people to live in)
Aristotle suggests that all things that are subject to change are subject to the above causal
"...all change is from what-is potentially to what-is actually, from being potentially white,
say, to actually white. This is the reason why not only is there coming-to-be from what-is-not
accidentally, but every case of coming-to-be is also from what-is potentially but not actually"
­Aristotle, The Metaphysics.
Aristotle went on to `categorise' different substances, many of which are brought about or
changed by the Four Causes. He believed that there were three types of substance.
1. Substances which are evident but will decay and/or die (animals)
2. Substances which are evident but will not decay and/or die (time or the world ­for
Aristotle's era the concept of the world ever ending was non-existent)
3. Substances that are immune from any change (things like the number two, the number
two will always be 2)
Aristotle believed that all things were caused to be and that some things (1 and 2) were then caused
to change (potentiality to actuality) by the Four Causes.
Aristotle believed that there was a `common source' of all substance; in other words,
something/someone that was responsible for the beginning (at least) of everything. Aristotle
develops that the `common source' is an eternal substance, which exists necessarily and is immune to

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His argument;
There must be something that is not subject to change, decay and death, or the whole world would
be subject to change, decay and death.
The whole world is not subject to these things; time will not decay and will not die, for example.
However, time can only be like this if there is something in it that is not subject to change, decay and
Therefore, there must be an eternal substance which is not subject to change, decay, and death.…read more


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