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Explain what Aristotle meant by the 'final cause'.

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Explain what Aristotle meant by the 'final cause'. What causes change and motion? Plato denied the reality of change. It was a quality only of the visible world, of which we could have no certain knowledge. But Aristotle, gradually breaking away from the philosophy of his beloved teacher, came to think that change was real and had to be explained. To explain how a thing comes to be as it is Aristotle developed his theory of the Four Causes The translation of "cause" is misleading, but traditional. The closest meaning to that word would be "explanatory factor". The "four causes" provide answers to four questions one might ask about something, for example, a man: "What is it made from?" "Flesh and so on" (material cause - material is not enough however on its own to make the object whatever it is. Material is necessary but it does not give us the whole answer. ) "What is its form or essence?" "A two-legged creature capable of reason" (formal cause - this is the characteristics that make the object fit into whatever category it fits into. ...read more.


It is this fourth, final cause which is the most important, and which in Aristotle's view gives the best explanation of an object. The fial end, or the purpose, or teleology of a thing, when realized gives that thing its full perfection and reality. The function of a light bulb is the power to give out light. If it should lose this ability and if this could not be restored, then it will no longer be a light bulb. When something is doing what it is meant to, or has developed into whatever it was supposed to develop into, it ahs achieved its goodness. The purpose of the object for Aristotle is part of the object itself, and not something which we might choose or impose on it - it is intrinsic. "Aristotle was wrong to imagine that everything has a purpose." All the different elements of nature have a purpose, according to Aristotle, and nothing is excessive (superfluous). He considers that everything acts or is actualized for an end or a purpose - this is its telos - and this is in some sense its cause. ...read more.


So, there is purpose in things that come to be and exist by nature. Also mistakes do occur. The literate man will write incorrectly, the doctor will give the wrong dose; so it is clearly possible, too, for mistakes to happen in things that are in accordance with nature and Aristotle didn't deny that. He tried to show that like man nature was not always perfect. There would be "monsters". I think that Aristotle was right and that everything does have a purpose but mistakes do happen. The most common argument that is usually brought forward is that what is the purpose of evil? The answer however is very simple if there was no evil how would we know what good is? There are also things in the universe that at this moment you would not know the purpose for like centuries before us people didn't know what trees were for, but now we know that they are essential as they provide us with oxygen. We obviously don't have the answer for everything but in the future we probably would be able to find a purpose for most things even insects that you really think are useless. ...read more.

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