The Four Causes What are there four of?
Introduction Aristotle was not the first person to engage in a causal investigation of the world around us.
From the very beginning, and independently of Aristotle, the investigation of the natural world consisted in the search for the relevant causes of a variety of natural phenomena. Both in the Physics and in the Metaphysics Aristotle places himself in direct continuity with this tradition.
At the beginning of the Metaphysics Aristotle offers a concise review of the results reached by his predecessors Metaph. From this review we learn that all his predecessors were engaged in an investigation that eventuated in knowledge of one or more of the following causes: However, Aristotle makes it very clear that all his predecessors merely touched upon these causes Metaph.
That is to say, they did not engage in their causal investigation with a firm grasp of these four causes. They lacked a complete understanding of the range of possible causes and their systematic interrelations.
Put differently, and more boldly, their use of causality was not supported by an adequate theory of causality. According to Aristotle, this explains why their investigation, even when it resulted in important insights, was not entirely successful. This insistence on the doctrine of the four causes as an indispensable tool for a successful investigation of the world around us explains why Aristotle provides his reader with a general account of the four causes.
That proper knowledge is knowledge of the cause is repeated in the Physics: My hesitation is ultimately due to the fact that not all why-questions are requests for an explanation that identifies a cause, let alone a cause in the particular sense envisioned by Aristotle. This account is general in the sense that it applies to everything that requires an explanation, including artistic production and human action.
Here Aristotle recognizes four types of things that can be given in answer to a why-question: All the four types of causes may enter in the explanation of something.
Consider the production of an artifact like a bronze statue. The bronze enters in the explanation of the production of the statue as the material cause.
Note that the bronze is not only the material out of which the statue is made; it is also the subject of change, that is, the thing that undergoes the change and results in a statue.
The bronze is melted and poured in order to acquire a new shape, the shape of the statue.
Aristotle is considered by many to be one of the most influential philosophers in history. As a student of Plato, he built on his mentor’s teachings of things like The Theory of Forms and his views on the soul. He also challenged them, introducing his own ideas such as act and potency, and the four causes. The point is that these four causes can encompass an objects complete description, such as what it’s made of, what it looks like, what made it and its purpose. The Causation theory is the basis for much of Aristotle’s work, including Physics, Metaphysics, and The Politics. Essay on Aristotle's Four Causes a) Explain Aristotle’s theory Analyse and comment on Physics ba3: Alfarabi and Aristotle: The Four Causes and The Four Stages of The Doctrine of The Intelligence Alfarabi was raised as a young boy in Baghdad. His early life was spent studying the art of linguistics, philosophy, and logic.
This shape enters in the explanation of the production of the statue as the formal cause. However, an adequate explanation of the production of a statue requires also a reference to the efficient cause or the principle that produces the statue.
For Aristotle, this principle is the art of bronze-casting the statue Phys. This is mildly surprising and requires a few words of elaboration. There is no doubt that the art of bronze-casting resides in an individual artisan who is responsible for the production of the statue.
But, according to Aristotle, all the artisan does in the production of the statue is the manifestation of specific knowledge. This knowledge, not the artisan who has mastered it, is the salient explanatory factor that one should pick as the most accurate specification of the efficient cause Phys.
By picking the art, not the artisan, Aristotle is not just trying to provide an explanation of the production of the statue that is not dependent upon the desires, beliefs and intentions of the individual artisan; he is trying to offer an entirely different type of explanation; an explanation that does not make a reference, implicit or explicit, to these desires, beliefs and intentions.
More directly, the art of bronze-casting the statue enters in the explanation as the efficient cause because it helps us to understand what it takes to produce the statue; that is to say, what steps are required to produce the statue.
But can an explanation of this type be given without a reference to the final outcome of the production, the statue? A model is made for producing the statue. A mold is prepared for producing the statue. The bronze is melted and poured for producing the statue. Both the prior and the subsequent stage are for the sake of a certain end, the production of the statue.
Clearly, the statue enters in the explanation of each step of the artistic production as the final cause or that for the sake of which everything in the production process is done. In thinking about the four causes, we have come to understand that Aristotle offers a teleological explanation of the production of a bronze statue; that is to say, an explanation that makes a reference to the telos or end of the process.Aristotle explained that things could be seen in four different ways.
He named these the four causes. These were the material, formal, efficient and the final cause. “Aition” is the nearest translation for the word cause, which means a responsible explanatory factor. The material cause, this. Aristotle believed in the four causes, the principal that everything has four causes of existence: Material cause – refers to what a thing is made of, Aristotle used the example of a bronze sculpture and a silver saucer, Aristotle .
In Aristotle’s work Physics, he uses the example of a statue to help explain the four causes and we will do the same using a bronze statue of Hercules.
In the Physics, Aristotle builds on his general account of the four causes by developing explanatory principles that are specific to the study of nature. Here Aristotle insists that all four causes are involved in the explanation of natural phenomena, and that the job of “the student of nature is to bring the why-question back to them all in. Aristotles four causes theory uphold that all the causes can be grouped into varies divisions. The 4 causes are based on general laws, and these causes are associated with the question of why a thing is. To answer such question is to give a cause. Any artifact can be broken down to these four causes. In the Physics, Aristotle builds on his general account of the four causes by developing explanatory principles that are specific to the study of nature. Here Aristotle insists that all four causes are involved in the explanation of natural phenomena, and that the job of “the student of nature is to bring the why-question back to them all in.
With this example the material cause, or that which the statue is made of, would be the bronze. The point is that these four causes can encompass an objects complete description, such as what it’s made of, what it looks like, what made it and its purpose.
The Causation theory is the basis for much of Aristotle’s work, including Physics, Metaphysics, and The Politics. in fact Aristotle varies his illustrations of each of the four causes and uses the case of the sculptor to demonstrate only the relation between the efficient and material cause.
Indeed, observing this disparity, R. K. Sprague, in a note published in , protested any illustration of the four causes by a single example (Sprague, ). Essay on Aristotle's Four Causes a) Explain Aristotle’s theory Analyse and comment on Physics ba3: Alfarabi and Aristotle: The Four Causes and The Four Stages of The Doctrine of The Intelligence Alfarabi was raised as a young boy in Baghdad.
His early life was spent studying the art of linguistics, philosophy, and logic.