The Concept of Cause
Unlike Plato, Aristotle did not believe there are two separate realms. He believed the world we live in is the only place in which we can have true knowledge, because it it through our sense experience that we come to understand things. Aristotle believed that “form”was not an ideal, but found within the item itself. The form is its structure and characteristics and can be perceived using the senses. For example, the form of a table is that it has four legs and a flat surface. For Aristotle, the “substance”or “matter” of something was the material of which it was made. For example, the substance of a table is wood, nails and glue. Aristotle used the term “prime matter” for anything that lacks a well defined form, which means that it is not organised in any particular structure. It would have matter, but no form. For the reverse of “prime matter”, which would be something with form but no matter, Aristotle would say that only God fulfils that. Only God has form without matter.
Aristotle was very interested in change, and causation. Aristotle was always asking “why” something is, and for him, the suggestion (as put forward by Bertrand Russell) that some things are just “brute fact” (There is no reason for it's existence) was unsatisfactory for Aristotle, and he sought to write about the “cause” of things. Aristotle's explanation of things can be seen in four different ways, at four different levels. 1. Material Cause ~ What is the object made of? The material cause of a table would be wood and nails, whereas the material cause of a statue would be gold or perhaps bronze. However, this is not enough to explain why the object is what it is. You can not understand a painting just by knowing the coloured paints and canvas used. 2. Efficient Cause ~ How did it happen? The efficient cause of something would be how it came about. For example, the efficient cause of a baby would be sexual intercourse, and the efficient cause of sea...
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