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Aristotles concept of cause
ARISTOTLE'S CONCEPT OF CAUSE:
TRUE KNOWLEDGE Unlike Plato, Aristotle did not believe there are two separate
realms. He believed the world we live in is the only place in which we can have true
knowledge, because it is through our sense experience that we come to understand
FORM Aristotle believed that `form' was not an ideal, but found within the item itself.
The form is its structure and characteristics and can be perceived using the senses.
SUBSTANCE The material of which things are made
Form of a table: It has four legs and a flat surface
Substance of a table: wood, nails and glue
MATTER Aristotle also used the term matter to define the stuff of which something
A chair's matter is wood, and its form is the structure of the chair itself
PRIME MATTER Prime Matter refers to anything that lacks a well defined form not
organised in any particular structure. It has matter but no form.
GOD For Aristotle, God is the only thing that has form without matter
CAUSES Small children often go through a phase of asking `why' about everything.
They demand a reason for each answer given, leading to a chain of reasons starting
from the immediate response and ending with the final response `because it just is.'
THE FOUR CAUSES The explanation of things can be seen in four different ways, at
four different levels.
I. Material Cause What the object is made of. The material cause of a statue would
be gold or bronze, for a chair it would be wood. Material is not enough on its own to
make the object what it is we cannot understand a great painting just by knowing the
colored paints and canvas used. It asks the question: What is it made of?
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II. Efficient Cause The agent that brings something about. In the case of a statue
the act of chiseling is the efficient cause. It asks the question: How did it happen?
III. Formal Cause The characteristics of the object. The person or mythical beast
that the statue resembles. The statue is not just a lump of marble someone is chiseling
away at. It asks the question: What are its characteristics?
IV. Final Cause The reason for its existence.…read more