In Aristotle's Physics, he presents his teleological theory of nature as comprised of changing materials which are to be understood in terms of the factors that brought them about, particularly their final causes (i.e. the function that they ultimately exist to serve). In his view, wisdom is a special class of knowledge that craftspeople and scientists attain by comprehending the fundamental causes behind the materials they manipulate and observe rather than simply describing their immediately perceptible qualities. This essay will first introduce Aristotle's argument for the reality of change taking place in the natural world, in contrast to earlier philosophers who viewed all instances of ?change? as the result of inconsistent sensory perceptions.
[...] After arguing for a view of reality which allows for transformations in the forms of existing things, a proposition that struck earlier philosophers as illogical, Aristotle explains his teleological view of the natural world and the utility of studying his doctrine of the four causes. His overall goal is to propose a conception of reality in which natural things do not change randomly or by chance, but (for the most part) tend to change in certain directions for particular reasons that are open to human discovery. [...]
[...] If everything existed as one contrary or another, then the concept of change would not properly apply because no part of the thing in question would remain consistent as “that which changed from X to Rather, X would blink out of existence and Y would blink into existence. say that one substance is not contrary to another. How, then, could a non-substance be prior to a substance?” (Physics, 189a, 33-35). To resolve this issue and allow for the possibility of change in objects (things coming to be from other things already in existence), Aristotle identifies the principles of any type of natural transformation as form, privation and matter. [...]
[...] It is this overall consistency in the natures of things and the changes they undergo that allows people to master crafts by cognizing the underlying causes of their phenomena of interest. doctor, for instance, knows health, and also the bile and phlegm in which health is realized” (Physics, 194a, 23-25). In other words, given that nature is teleologically determined, it is extremely worthwhile for scientists and craftspeople to develop an awareness both of the apparent formal goals of natural changes and the ways in which matter itself indicates these goals being thwarted or fulfilled. [...]
[...] Within his own description, Aristotle's four causes seem to be the only theoretical device necessary to understanding the current arrangements of matter in various forms. However, Aristotle's decision to rule out the role of chance in determining natural transformations strikes the contemporary reader as a major misstep if they take the modern theory of evolution to be true. natural things come to be as they do either always or usually, whereas no result of luck or chance comes to be either always or usually” (Physics, 198b, 34-35). [...]
[...] evidently made this much progress in fastening on two of the four causes that we distinguished in our work on nature-- the matter and the principle of motion . these thinkers would seem not to know what they are saying, since they evidently make practically no use of these causes, except to a slight degree” (Metaphysics, 985a, 11-20). Next, the efficient cause allows us to gain wisdom by understanding the source of the primary principle of change or stability in something. [...]
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