Aristotle's Forms

  • Created by: nelliott
  • Created on: 14-06-21 15:23

The Background to the Forms

  • Aristotle dates: 384 BC – 322 BC
  • Aristotle opened his book Metaphysics with the words “all men desire to know” which reflected his fascination with learning about and understanding the world 
  • Dante called Aristotle  “master of those who know” 
  • Aristotle was Plato’s pupil for 20 years and he profoundly disagreed with his teacher over the Forms, saying “Plato is dear to us, but truth is more dear”
  • He was born fifteen years after Socrates’ death so did not feel the same way as Plato about him
  • He believed that you can achieve knowledge through examining evidence and that knowledge rests on careful observation and reflection
  • He believed that knowledge was not just intellectual i.e. playing an instrument, fixing a car etc. needs a practical specialist
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What are Aristotle's Forms?

  • He believed strongly in things having a cause and effect and was most interested in why things exist as they do
  • He rejected Plato’s idea that things have an ideal Form
  • He argued that things do have a form but not in the Platonic sense of that form being a copy of an ideal Form 
  • This led him to suggest that there are four different types of cause or explanation of why any object exists 
  • These are known as the ‘Four Causes’
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The Four Causes

Material – what something is made of. Without this, something could not exist (physical ‘stuff’)

Formal – a chair is what it is because it is in the form of a chair – shape, wood, metal etc. Each chair has its own form

Efficient – what brings an object about i.e. a chair maker. It could be a natural phenomenon but something would not exist without it

Final – purpose for which a thing exists. All of nature has a purpose and each body part does too. You can’t think each part has a purpose but that as a whole it does not. Neither nature nor people do things for no reason at all. There is a driving force; a final cause behind them

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