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Aristotle Essay

Explain Aristotle’s idea of the four causes. Aristotle explained that things could be seen in four different ways he came to this conclusion because of the theory of causation which lead him to believe that the world existed in a state of cause and effect. He named these the four causes; these are material, formal, efficient and the final cause. The material cause is what something is made of, the matter. One example is a clay pot; its matter is clay. Aristotle argued that without matter then nothing could exist. He explained that the material cause expresses the “substance” of an object and has the most potential to change. The formal cause is the form in which something is in. For example, the clay pot is the way it is because it is in the form of a clay pot. Aristotle explained that something has its own form as opposed to sharing in the ideal form. The form is immanent rather than transcendent.

The efficient cause is the thing that happens to bring about certain results. For instance, with a clay pot the efficient cause would be the person who made the clay pot; the act of the person forming the shape of it. This is the cause that brings the substance of an object into a particular form. Aristotle believed that the efficient cause is where potentiality is turned to actuality, the person sees the potential of the clay and actualizes it by making it into a clay pot. If something does not have an efficient cause then it would never exist because something causes it to be. Lastly, there is the final cause. This is the purpose of an object, the reason for its existence. Aristotle believed that this was the most important cause and that all nature has an ultimate reason for existence.

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The purpose of an object is part of the object itself. For example, the clay pot’s final cause is to put flowers in or to hold water, Aristotle pointed out that there can be many causes. “You cannot remove an arrow from its straightness” here Aristotle is saying that its purpose is already there it is intrinsic. He believed that everything we do is for a purpose. Aristotle also said that the final cause for everything in the universe is the prime mover or the first cause. Aristotle argued that man’s ultimate purpose is to love and desire god, the prime mover. The prime mover was explained as being nothing like the theistic concept, but perfect and everlasting. Aristotle believed that the world was eternal but in this way, we don’t need to think of God as the creator of the world. Aristotle explains that whatever brings about a change produces a chain and the origin of the chain must be unmoving or unchanging. To him, this meant that the prime mover is not the origin of existence but the origin of the force of change.

‘Aristotle’s theory of the four causes is convincing’ Discuss. Aristotle’s theory of the four causes is convincing because in everything he says we can relate to it. We can relate to it because he used his senses to come up with his theory. He spent a lot of time observing the world of the natural living as he wanted to discover what the purpose of everything was. This is how he came up with the theory of the four causes. For example; what does the heart do? We know scientifically but why do we have to live like this? He came to the conclusion that nature itself did not have a conscious mind. The purpose that the object is trying to achieve is somehow inside the object already without knowing. For Example; a cow’s purpose of living is to be a fully grown cow but if it dies young it would not achieve its potential. He believes everything had an order, nothing came randomly.

The reason why a living thing may not achieve its purpose would be its final cause from the Unmoved Mover, God. Everything that Aristotle did was based on observation. He was accurate in his interpretation of what he had seen and observed by using all his senses to come up with a definite conclusion that everyone would believe. Many people would say that Aristotle’s theory of the four causes is not convincing because the idea that nature has a purpose is teleological. This disagrees with the statement because we don’t know whether anything has a purpose. For example, we don’t know if every part of the human body has a purpose. Some would say that this is an error of composition which means that just because something is true of some parts then there must be the truth for the whole thing. The philosophy from the 20th century argues that there is no purpose that things exist. People have purposes because they chose to have them not because they are born with them.

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