Explain Aristotles understanding of the four causes. (25)

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Explain Aristotle’s understanding of the four causes. (25)

Aristotle was an empiricist, and believed that truth about reality comes from a posterior knowledge; which is the role of gaining knowledge from experience, especially through our senses. Though he was the student of Plato, he greatly disagreed with some of Plato's ideas; Aristotle's ideas were based on what we experience Aristotle wanted to examine what it meant for something to be real, and this is how he formed his ideas of the four causes. His theory was based on knowledge that was found through experience and empirical observation, for example the physical world.

One question that fascinated Aristotle was the question of cause. 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 came up with four causes; the material, formal, efficient and the final cause. In exploring this he recognises that something can have several different explanations for its existence. For example a wooden desk; it is caused by wood because it is a wooden desk, someone making the wooden desk causes it. This is called actualising of potential, for example wood has the potential to be made a desk, but it needs the person to realise this potential. Having a large flat surface and study legs causes it, and it exists in order to fulfill its purpose by providing a surface for someone to work on. All of these causes are the material, formal, efficient and the final cause.

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Aristotle examines the concept of substance. He concludes that substance is a combination of matter and form and this is what a thing is made up off. The Form the thing and distinguishing characteristics, and matter being the material that the thing is made from. For example the matter of a house is the bricks, timber, etc while the form of the house is the actual house. One of the most important aspects of his idea was the development from potentiality to actuality; this provided a basis for the discussion of the beginning and existence of all things, including ...

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