Ancient Greek Influences: Aristotle's Four Causes and the Prime Mover

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Aristotle used his four causes to explain why things exist as they do. Everything is in a state of change, from a state of actuality to potentiality (i.e. a freshly brewed coffee is hot (actuality) however it has the potential to become cold.

The Four Causes

The Material Cause: The matter or substance from which something is made.

The Formal Cause: What gives the matter its 'Form' or 'Structure'

The Efficient Cause: The cause of an object or thing existing.

The Final Cause: The reason why something is the way it is, the purpose of the object.

Difference between Plato and Aristotle

Although Aristotle is a student of Plato, he had very different ideologies. Aristotle's philosophy emphasis the valuie of studying the physical world; he was an empiricist (knowledge is gained through observarion of the world), whereas Plato was a rationalist (knowledge is gained through the mind).

Aristotle rejects Plato's theory of Forms, which are outside of the world and only known through the soul/mind. He also rejects dualism (belief in the seperation if the mind/soul and body, and that the soul is what lives on) and Plato's understanding of the soul. Instead Aristotle to the stance of a Materialist, some who believes in Materialism (the rejection of the seperarion of soul and body and believes in only the body and this current life not a hereafter).

The Prime Mover (PM) - the unchanging cause of all that exists:

This is something that causes the motion and change of the universe without being moved, it is also


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