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"All men desire to know" - this quote from Aristotle's book Metaphysics sums up his fascination for learning and understanding the world. Part of Aristotle's philosophy investigates the nature of things and how we explain why things exist.

Aristotle's interest was why things exist as they do, however he rejects Plato's idea that things which exist immitate the ideal form of the object. Instead he was interested in why a particular piece of matter exists like it does. This led Aristotle to come up with four causes or explanations as to why an object exists:

Aristotle's Four Causes (MFEF)

  • The Material Cause: The substance which something is made from, e.g. The Material Cause of a book is paper
  • The Formal Cause: What gives the matter its 'structure' or 'form' e.g. What makes a book a book is the way the pieces of paper are arranged to be in the form of a book
  • The Efficient Cause: What made the object exists, e.g. A book exists because someone wrote it and printed it. The Efficient Cause of a book is the author.
  • The Final Cause: This is the function of an object, e.g. The Final Cause of a book is to be read. The Final Cause is Teleological as it if concerned with the function of an object, or the reason an action is done. Aristotle is not saying everything has a purpose, he is saying that every object or thing has some function which is the ultimate reason why something is as it is.

Aristotle's example of The Four Causes is a marble statue:

  • Material Cause: Made of Marble
  • Formal Cause: It is in the shape of a statue
  • Efficient Cause: A mason has made it
  • Final Cause: To be a beautiful statue that honours, remembers or recalls something/someone

Aristotle himself:

Aristotle tutored students in most subjects that are in university today. He was fascinated with understanding the world around him and the universe. He wrote abour subjects including Biology, Drama, Meterology, Public Speaking, Sport and Physics.
Aristotle was taught by Plato and always admired his work, however he often approached things very differently to him which led their philosophy to be very different to each others. Plato's philosophy is seen as emphasising the world of ideas and reason as the source of knowledge, whilst Aristotle's is seen as emphasising the physical world and experience as the basis of knowledge. Aristotle's writings have always acknowledged that of Plato's and recognise what he had learned from him, however his philosophy was different in a number of ways:

1. Aristotle emphasises the value of studying the physical world; his approach is empirical and he is…



Thanks, this helps alot!

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