• Created by: cjearey
  • Created on: 08-03-15 10:25

Plato and Aristotle

  • Plato taught Aristotle at the Acadamy. Aristotle had great great respect for his teacher, but disagreed with him
  • Aristotle was an empiricist, who argues that knowledge is based on experience and the truth can be discovered through our senses
  • He was trying to understand the purpose of life
  • One  area he examined involved trying to discover exactly what the essence of an object was
1 of 7

The Four Causes

1) The Material Cause - What is it made of?

2) The Efficient Cause - How does it happen? (can be a person, as well as an action)

3) The Formal Cause - What are its characteristics?

4) The Final Cause - What is it for?

Use Statue example

  • Aristotle examines the purpose of objects, the reason why they exist at all
2 of 7

The Final Cause

  • Aristotle said the Final Cause is the most important one because it gives the best explanation of an object. The purpose of an object is an important part of what it is
  • Everything in existence can answer the four causes, even if we do not know the answers ourselves. Hence, everything has a purpose, even if we do not understand it
  • If a small object can answer all the questions, so can something as large as the universe
  • When the purpose is fully realised, then full perfection is reached. If the object does what it is meant to do, then the object has achieved goodness
3 of 7

Prime Mover

  • Everything in life is changing, and something must cause this movement
  • Everything must have a Final Cause
  • Nothing comes from nothing -> so it follows that there is a chain of events, there must be an ultimate cause
  • The Prime Mover is the ultimate cause
  • Prime Mover = unmoved mover, who is eternal, a substance and actual. It is different, separate and external from the world.
  • Prime Mover is beyond space and time.
  • Some similarities between Prime Mover and God
4 of 7

Prime Mover Cont

  • Does not exist in a bodily form like us, otherwise it would be subject to change just as we are. PM can only exist in a spiritual way, so must be intelligence or thought. It is immaterial, so can only understand intellectual and spritual activities
  • It never changes, does not have any potential to change and so will never end. Something which is eternal must necessarily be good; things which change are bad. Change means impermanence, which is bad because there is always room for improvement
  • PM cannot move, but things are attracted to it. We humans move towards the PM, like cats drawn to a bowl of milk
  • PM is perfect and unmoved - and so cannot think of anything but itself, because thinking involves moving through ideas. God can only know God and cannot have a relationship with anything outside of itself. It is ttotally outsied our world in terms of time and space. It knows nothing about it, has no plan and never intervenes in it
5 of 7


  • Arisotle focuses on empiricisim and sensory expereince, which is accessible to everybody
  • He believes that everything has a purpose, giving worth to people and objects
  • Compatible with science. Aristotle was a materialist and an empiricist, claiming that true knowledge  depends upon observation and experience of the material world, which was supported by more modern empiricists such as Hume, Locke and Berkeley
6 of 7


  • It is hard to understand how the PM can be powerful, yet unable to know it . He does not know about our universe or the people who are drawn towards him
  • Where did the matter that the world is made of come from? Was it caused too?
  • Does there have to be a reason for the existence of the universe? Couldn't it just be chance? or 'brute fact' - B. Russell
7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Philosophy resources »