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Transcript of Aristotle
Know and understand who Aristotle was.
Know and understand Aristotle's 4 Causes.
Know and understand who the prime mover is.
Name means 'the best purpose'
Born 384 BC
Aristotle was trained and educated as a member of the aristocracy
At about the age of eighteen, he went to Athens to continue his education at Plato's Academy
Aristotle remained at the academy for nearly twenty years before quitting Athens in 348/47 BC.
Aristotle was invited by Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor to his son Alexander in 343 BC
By 335 BC he had returned to Athens, establishing his own school there known as the Lyceum. Aristotle conducted courses at the school for the next twelve years
Died 322 BC
Aristotle was a remarkable man he tutored students on subjects that are still taught at universities today.
His biology books were not superseded by anything better for 2000years.
Aristotle also wrote about other areas of study including drama, meteorology, sport and physics.
Part of his philosophy investigated the nature of things and how we explain why they exist.
Aristotle suggested that there are four different types of cause or explanation of why any object exists.
These 4 explanations are called the 4 Causes.
The 4 Causes
1) The Material Cause
-Refers to the matter or substance that something is made from .e.g that matter that a book is made from is paper.
2) The Efficient Cause
- Refers to the cause of an object existing (why it exists) .e.g a book exists because someone wrote it the author of the book is the cause.
3) The Formal Cause
-Refers to what gives the matter its form or structure .e.g A book is pieces of paper arranged in a particular way.
4) The Final Cause
- Concerned with the reasons why something is the way it is, the function of any thing or object .e.g why is a book printed and laid out this way- so it is readable.
The final cause is teleological it's concerned with the purpose of a particular object or reason an action is done.
Aristotle is a MEFF
The Efficient Caus
e of the house is the process of building it and the cause of it being built. This would include the builder digging the foundations, completing the brick work etc – those things that caused it to be built.
The Formal Caus
e of the house is the architect’s plan the design or form that the house will take.
The Final Caus
e of the house is the purpose it was created for – to be lived in.
An example to explain Aristotle’s theory consider a house:
The Material Cause
of the house is the bricks, mortar, wood, glass etc that cause the structure to actually exist – the things the house is made from.
Explain how this object came into existence, give me as may factors that contribute to it's existence as you can.
These are the opening works of Aristotle's book
and they sum up his fascination with learning about and understanding the world.
"All Men desire to Know"
Plato and Aristotle
Aristotle was taught by Plato and always admired his philosophical work. Many of the areas of study that so interested Aristotle were first worked on by Plato.
However Aristotle often approached topics differently which leads to some of his philosophy being very different from Plato's.
Plato and Aristotle are often thought to represent two different approaches; Plato emphasising the world of ideas and knowledge and Aristotle emphasising the physical world and experience.
Aristotle's writings always recognised the value of what he had learned from Plato and many of his books refer to Plato.
Anthony Kenny (A Brief History of Western Philosophy) has stated that:
"Aristotle always acknowledged a great debt to Plato whom on his death he described as the best and happiest of mortals 'whom it is is not right for evil men to even praise'.
1) Aristotle emphasises the value of studying the physical world. Aristotle's approach is empirical.
2) Aristotle rejected Plato's Theory of the Forms; some of the reasons include the fact that the relationship between the forms and the objects in the WoA was not explained.
3) Aristotle rejects a dualist view of the world and Plato's understanding of the soul.
Why do you think their hands are pointed in opposite directions?
Apply the 4 Causes to the following items:
The Prime Mover
Aristotle observed that everything that exists was in a permanent state of movement or motion.
Aristotle didn't mean moving around he meant change the greek work motus from which our word motion comes from means change.
Aristotle observed that nature and humans were in a constant state of change.
The Prime Mover
Aristotle observed four things:
1) The physical world was constantly in a state of change and motion.
2) The planets seemed to be moving eternally.
3) Change or motion is always caused by something.
4) Objects in the physical world were in a state of actuality and potentiality.
From these four observations Aristotle concludes that there exists something that causes motion without being moved and is eternal.
Aristotle reached this conclusion by seeing that if something can change it exists in one actual state and has a the potential to become another state. e.g a child is potentially an adult.
Aristotle realised that is things come into existence they must be caused to exist by something else.
Secondly, he argued that if something is capable of change that means its potentially something else.
This led him to ask what it the cause of this motion and change.
The Prime Mover
It's not like asking what starts off a domino rally instead its what the continual cause of change is.
The motion of the planets was significant, Aristotle understood the motion of the planets to be eternal so there must be an eternal cause of motion- A Prime Mover.
For Aristotle. The PM isn't just the start (like lighting a firework) it is the originating cause of all motion eternally, it sustains the pattern of change from actuality to potentiality.
Characteristics of the Prime Mover
PM exists by necessity- meaning it couldn't fail to exist.
PM isn't capable of change and is pure actuality by nature.
It's nature is good because if it could be better it could change.
The Prime Mover is the ultimate explanation of why things exist- it is the final cause.
Aristotle also suggest the PM leads to movement like the action of being loved.
Aristotle also links the PM with God and concludes that God is
"a living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal belong to God; for this is God"
God is pure actuality containing no potentiality-God is the complete reality.
God relates to the universe as a leader and in the order of the universe.
The first is more important that the second as the universe depends for its existence on the prime mover.
God doesn't in any way interact and act in the world.
The God of Aristotle is eternal, transcendent and impersonal being.
The relationship between the PM and the universe is not clear.
The PM does not interact with the universe this is against theist beliefs about God.
There can be no sense made of religious experiences and the PM.
Commentators would dispute that there is a Final cause or purpose within the universe.
Links to Christianity
Aquinas used Aristotle's thinking to come up with early forms of the cosmological argument.
The philosophy of Aristotle is used to explain RC beliefs about Jesus.
The PM idea influenced medieval thinking about the nature of God
a) Explain Aristotle's theory of the Prime Mover (25)
b)"Aristotle's theory of the 4 Causes is convincing" Discuss (10)