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  • Created by: Jess
  • Created on: 07-01-13 17:27

The 4 causes

Aristotle developed the four causes which help to describe an object. The four causes are:

  • Material cause - What is it made of?
  • Formal Cause - what are it's characteristics?
  • Efficient cause - What created it?
  • Final cause - What is it's purpose/Telos?

Example - A chair

  • material cause - plastic, glue, metal, nails
  • Formal cause - back, seat, 4 legs
  • Efficient cause - a company such as IKEA
  • Final cause - something to sit on.
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Aristotle believed that everything strives for perfection in fulfilling it's purpose which is it's ultimate Telos.

He also believed that everything was created for a purpose which is the final cause or Telos of the four causes. 

Aristotle believed that not only does living things have a purpose but all things have a purpose. But living things like Humans have to use their reason to work out what their purpose is and to help guide them to the right actions. 

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Theory of Knowledge and forms

Plato believed in a transcendent reality but Aristotle argued that our own world is an object of tremendous richness and beauty in it's own right and we can never go coherently beyond our own experience.

Aristotle rejected Plato's theory of forms but does use the word form but only as a definition of an object. Aristotle believes the world as being a fixed, unchanging structure made of matter and forms with the earth being in the middle of the universe.

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Matter and Form

Matter is the material of which the physical world is made for Aristotle matter is just stuff. For matter to have any meaning matter has to have form to be able to be something and have substance. 

Aristotle is concerned with the nature of things- they have a form that can be percieved by the senses, a definition which characterises them and they have matter which is the material which they are made from.

Can you have matter and no form? - Yes

Can you have form but no matter? - no, only God.

Matter always has the potential to change towards the telos of its object which is it's:

  • Relative goal - which is the telos appropraite for its species
  • ultimate goal -which is the state of complete rest from which further change will be impossible.

Everything that has been composed of matter has some potential for change so can never achieve it's ultimate goal, only by becoming pure form. 

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Theory of souls

Aristotle believed that the soul is what is alive, the animating principle of all living things. The animating principle of all living things is the form of a living body that is organised so as to exercise the function of life.

Entelechy means an organisation in virute of which a thing is capable of functioning in the ways of its life giving activity. Which is achieving it's telos and the soul.

The soul is life giving which means that when the body dies so does the soul, there is no duality.

Plants have vegetitive souls.

Animals have appetitive souls

Humans have rational souls

The soul cannot be immortal because the soul dies with the body.

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The unmoved mover

Because everything aims to achieves it's ultimate telos there has to be an actual entity that can correspond to this goal, this is the unmoved mover.

Everything in the world is moving so all the movement has to begin with the unmoved mover according to Aristotle.

Because of Netwon's third law where every action has a reaction the unmoved mover must not be affected so has to be unchanging, eternal and perffect. 

The unmoved more doesn't depend on anything for existence, he just exists necessarilyso has no beginning or the end. 

Aristotle describes the unmoved mover as 'thought of thought' as he can't be affected by us as he is perfect so cannot know about the unperfectness in the world and can only know of himself.

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