Aristotle's four causes and the prime mover

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Aristotle

How Aristotle Saw the World
Aristotle saw the world as something discoverable; something that could be observed and tested using a posteriori reasoning.

Believed that (almost) everything is in constant change: potential to actual (acorn has the postential to become a tree and a tree has the potential to become paper)

He believed that (almost) everything has four causes that effect such change.

He believed that the four causes explained why everything exists (its essence and its telos)

Aristotle's Goodness
Aristotle believed that to be GOOD something has to fulfil its potential (reach its telos)

For example a good cancer cell spreads fast.

Aristotles meaning of form and substance
Form = the actual thing
Substance = its reality

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The Four Causes

Definition of Each of the Four Causes

1. Material Cause - what is it made out of?
things can have the same material causes yet have very different final cause 
Example: a pens material cause would be plastic and ink
2. Efficient Cause - How does it happen?
its often for a thing to have more than one efficient cause and an efficient cause actualises the        potential.
Example: pen = being made in factory, delivers to the shop, you buy it
3. Formal Cause - what are the characteristics?
what something does that makes us identify it. Things can have the same material and efficient      causes - it is the formal cause that helps us diffrentiate between them.
Example: pen = how it looks
4. Final Cause - What is it for?
This is the most important cause; it is the reason or telos of an object (Aristotles view of nature        was teleological). The PRIME MOVER is the final ultimate cause.
 Example: Pen = to write

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Extra Info on the Four Causes

Aristotle's Epistemological Method

The empirical method using a posteriori reasoning

Why the final cause is the most important to Aristotle

The final cause is the culmination of the other three causes

How does the four causes fit in with the idea of goodness

because something being GOOD means its fulfilled its purpose and the final cause is the telos of something which means it has fulfilled its purpose thus its good.

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Evaluating the Four Causes

is a posteriori reasoning how we know of the four causes?

Partially - because we use our senses to realise the material, formal and final cause of an object. However we use a priori reasoning (rationalism) to figure out the efficient cause of an object.

Do the Four causes explain change?

No - because if a style of a pen or an everyday object is changed then we can no longer identify it as a pen or the same everyday object (as we cant recognise it). For the four causes it only explains and shows objects that are in the present and why that thing is here in the present.

Do the Four Causes Explain Existence?

No - we have to use our own rationalism to figure ouot what existence is and how came to be because at the moment there is no confirmed proof what existence is and how it came to be. And to be able to use the four causes we need to understand how something came to be originally.

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Evaluating the Four Causes

Do they explain everything (beauty, Justice, wisdom)?

No - because the four causes is a theory based off a posteriori reasoning and to be able to work out beauty, justice and wisdom we need to use our own rationalism because everyone has different opinions on what these things are.

Does Everything Have a Final Cause?

yes - because existence was brought here by God. Why would create something without a telos? Without a meaning? So everything must have a purpose.

What Might Plato Have Thought About the Four Causes? Was he Right?

Plato would have disagreed with the four causes because they are based on a posteriori reasoning and he believes that our senses can decieve us and we should only use a priori reasoning to explain things.

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The Prime Mover (God)

The four causes is the reason why everything exists for Aristotle.
Aristotle sees change as imperfection because it means a final telos was not achieved. This is why the prime mover CANNOT change - immutable.
Aristotle believed that nothing could not come from nothing so this is why the prime mover is necessary to explain all changes.

Infinite Regression
Infinite regression is a process that goes back and back and back and back and back and back and back and back and back and back... FOREVER.
Infinite regression is not a possibility for Aristotle and if there is no infinite regression then there must be an ultimate or final cause/reason. 

THE PRIME MOVER IS THE ULTIMATE OR FINAL CAUSE OF THE UNIVERSE

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The Prime Mover Description

The prime mover is described with a number of attributes:

Substance - its reality

Eternal - has no beginning or end

Pure Actuality - no potential to change

Separate (necessary existence) - logically 'has' to 'exist'

indivisable - can't be divided

Impassive - no relationship with the world

Immaterial - non-physical 

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Analogies to explain the prime mover

Does the Prime mover push or pull change?

No it attracts change.

Analogies

1. The moth is attracted to the candle

2. the cat is attracted to the bowl of milk

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The Prime Mover (God)

The four causes is the reason why everything exists for Aristotle.
Aristotle sees change as imperfection because it means a final telos was not achieved. This is why the prime mover CANNOT change - immutable.
Aristotle believed that nothing could not come from nothing so this is why the prime mover is necessary to explain all changes.

Infinite Regression
Infinite regression is a process that goes back and back and back and back and back and back and back and back and back and back... FOREVER.
Infinite regression is not a possibility for Aristotle and if there is no infinite regression then there must be an ultimate or final cause/reason. 

THE PRIME MOVER IS THE ULTIMATE OR FINAL CAUSE OF THE UNIVERSE

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