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A) Explain what Aristotle meant by the final cause.

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Introduction

Aristotle A Grade Essay A) Explain what Aristotle meant by the final cause. 25 Marks Aristotle was an empiricist. His epistemology was based on experience rather than rational thinking, as opposed to Plato who was a rationalist. Aristotle understood that the world around us is transient and after studying and exploring he concluded everything could be explained with 4 causes with the final cause being the most important. Aristotle believes that in order for us to understand the world we need to know what things are made of, look like, come from and most importantly its purpose. The material cause is the matter , so a table's material cause is wood and metal, The next cause is the formal cause, this is the way in which it is expressed; its characteristics. So a table's formal cause would be a flat top and four legs. The efficient cause is the agent that brought it about. So the efficient cause of a table would be the carpenter. ...read more.

Middle

Aristotle acknowledged that all things in our universe are always trying to achieve perfection, which is reflected by everything always having potentiality. This then led to think that everything in the universe forever desires perfection and we are drawn to a prime mover. Aristotle believed that the prime mover was the ultimate final cause, as it is perfect and we all are drawn to it, by always having potentiality, and always aspiring to perfection. The prime mover is pure actuality and has no potentiality. It exists necessarily and is transcendent. Aristotle emphasises the importance of the final cause because this links with idea of the prime mover and explains how it is the cause of movement for everything in the universe. Everything is always changing and part of the telos/final cause of all things is to seek perfection. The final cause is the main cause out of the four as it shows us a things purpose and reason for existing. The concept has been very influential on Christianity because of its implications of cause and purpose and how Christians see a purpose in life. ...read more.

Conclusion

He single most damaging criticism of Aristotle's ideas is from Plato. Plato says that empirical knowledge is useless to us because our sense data cannot be trusted and is easily manipulated. If you base your ideas on the physical world then you are not a true philosopher and cannot truly understand concepts like goodness, or understand the true purpose of things. The whole idea that the universe has a purpose is flawed according to Russell and Dawkins, who believe that the universe is random. However Aristotle's prime mover does at least attempt to explain why the universe exists as it does, rather than saying the is no reason at all. Aristotle would argue that without a telos there would be no point in things existing. Why would an acorn exist if it didn't have the purpose of growing into an oak tree? It is this idea that it cannot be explained why things exists at all without referring to their purpose that I believe the statement to be incorrect. ...read more.

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