Aristotle And The Four Causes Essay

However, objects can have more than one material cause. It is made of wires, plastic, alloys and other materials.

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Unlike his teacher, Plato, Aristotle believed that the world could be explained by physical observation.

This approach of using the five senses, cataloguing and categorising, is the foundation of scientific study. Plato believed that we needed to look beyond the physical for an explanation of the universe in the guise of the World of Forms. Aristotle’s understanding of the four causes begins with the assumption that is present in all Greek philosophy, the notion of pre-existing matter.

The material cause is what something is made out of. The material cause also explains the general sort of properties of something.

Wooden boxes burn because they are made out of wood.

Aristotle uses the example of health being the cause of walking, ‘Why does one walk? This is perhaps the most important of all the causes. Once something has achieved a state of actuality it is also in a state of potentiality.

In this sense we can see that Aristotle saw that the universe was moving constantly between ‘potentiality’ to ‘actuality’ back to ‘potentiality’ once again.Lastly in terms of his understanding of causation, the final cause of a thing or object was its purpose (telos).The purpose of the statue is aesthetic in that it is admired; the purpose of my laptop is to help me do my work well.The human body is human, wooden boxes are boxes, and computers are computers.The difference between a mere collection of cells and a human body is that a human body has properties and functions that come from a particular arrangement of the right kind of cells doing the right kind of things.A chisel, hammer and sculptor primarily but also a cloth or water perhaps in order to change the material into the shape required.My laptop’s efficient cause may vary from machines and people to plastic moulds and screwdrivers.They also exist to be happy because they are rational. Explain Aristotle’s understanding of the four causes.He observed the world around him and noticed that it was in a state of constant motion, a movement from potentiality to actuality This movement from potentiality to actuality lead Aristotle to the conclusion that there are stages in causation.He called these the four causes: Material, Efficient, Formal and Final causes.


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