Explain Aristotles idea of the four causes.

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Naomi Bradshaw                                                                                                                                              Page  of

Aristotle Essay

  1. 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 fours causes; these are the 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 the 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 of 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 opposed to sharing in the ideal form. The form is immanent rather than transcendent.

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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 turn to actuality, the person sees the potential of the clay and actualises it by making it into a clay pot. If something does not have an efficient cause then it would never ...

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