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Describe Aristotle's teachings about the differences between the final cause and the other sorts of causes.

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Introduction

        Leanne Down 13ML

Describe Aristotle’s teachings about the differences between the final cause and the other sorts of causes

In Aristotle’s teachings there are different types of causes. There is the material cause, the efficient cause, the formal cause and the final cause. The material cause is the matter from which something is made (like the bricks used for the building of the house). The efficient cause is the agent that brings something about (like a builder that builds a house). The formal cause is the form of something (the building being done). The final cause is the goal or purpose that something wants to achieve (work towards), or the reason why it the way it is (the final building).

The material cause is what something is made up of. Without the material cause there would be no other causes, because you need a substance etc, for anything to happen. Using the example above, you

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Middle

Aristotle noticed that there was some flexibility in that the formal cause in one circumstance could be the efficient cause in another. Even though he realised this, he said that everything must include a final cause, as there is a purpose, a goal or telos to everything in nature.

The final cause is the something’s purpose. It is the function in which it has been intented on doing. The final cause is made up from everything being combined, in order for this to come about. However, Aristotle had a lot to say on the subject of the final cause especially with the idea of the prime mover (unmoved mover).

Aristotle believed there was a ‘prime mover’, who bought about everything. He said that because we see things in motion, there must someone who set the motion going. Which meant that there was an unmoved mover to begin with, who had set the whole universe going.

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Conclusion

The fact that everything including the world had a final cause meant that everything had a purpose. Therefore, it helped to see that everything around us has a cause and therefore has a purpose. This is a strength because it enables people to realise that not everything in the world is jus there because it is, but it actually has a reason/purpose for being there.

There are many views about the strengths and weaknesses of the way in which Aristotle viewed causality. However, I think that the idea about everything having a purpose, is correct and helps to understand why things are there. I don’t agree though that there is a ‘prime mover’, if everything has to have the four causes then what are the other causes of the ‘prime mover’?

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