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Aristotle’s four causes

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Jeff S.
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  1. Introduction
  2. The material cause
  3. The efficient causality and the mechnical causes
  4. Formal causality
  5. The chair maker
  6. The fourth and the final cause
  7. Definition of necessity
  8. The purpose and material behind saws
  9. Conclusion
  10. Works cited

In Physics, Aristotle discusses the four causes, especially the final cause. The original school of thought says things in nature happen to form the way they are by chance and that they happen to be purposeful, but did not form for a purpose. Aristotle attempts to reject this original notion because he makes the point that every action has a final cause, or purpose, for being performed, as opposed to happening out of necessity or chance. Aristotle also uses the idea of simple versus hypothetical necessity to strengthen his argument in rejecting the notion that objects occur only out of necessity or chance.

[...] If the saw was made of any weaker material, the saw would be unable to cut through the wood, and the purpose of the saw would not be complete. Both of these examples reject the notion that things occur only by necessity or chance because behind both examples lies a purpose. Walls would not form coincidentally into walls because the materials happen to be heavier on the bottom, similarly to how heavier objects sink to the bottom. Likewise, saws are created with specific materials in order to fulfill the purpose of sawing. Aristotle in Physics finally comes about the point that ?both causes must be [...]


[...] Without an efficient cause, the action could never be performed and the chair itself would never come to be. Formal causality comes from the form of the object. Plato described forms as the idea or ideal build of something. Aristotle takes it one step further and describes the form as a cause of the action, such that the formal cause is the ?form or the archetype, i.e. the statement of the essence, and its genera and the parts in the definition? (Physics Bk Ch. [...]

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