Despite being Plato’s student, Aristotle’s views conflict with his teacher’s. The biggest difference being that Aristotle was a realist; he saw the value in studying the physical world and trusted his senses, unlike Plato who believed in the world of forms. Plato believed that we need to look beyond the physical world for a metaphysical explanation of the universe, Aristotle refuted this. Aristotle observed nature and used logic and reason to explain how it works; he tried to find the ‘action’ of why things exist and tried to make sense of them. Also, Aristotle’s approach was imperial and he trusted the use of reason based on his experience. Aristotle rejected Plato’s dualism; he thought that the body and soul are one, as the brain and body are. This opposes Plato’s views that the body and soul were separate. 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 would say that bronze or silver is the material cause. However, an object can have more than one material cause, for example, the laptop I’m typing on is made of plastic, metal, wires and glass; these would all be material causes. The material cause also counters Plato’s theory of the world of forms, he would say that my laptop has a perfect form however, it is made up of individual things in order to be a laptop, all of the things it is made up of must have their own perfect form according to Plato, making his theory contradictive.
Formal cause – refers to the structure of an object, the shape it takes that makes it what it is. It is what we recognise as the thing we are looking at. An object must have a specific order in order to be what it is, for example, a bronze sculpture is not just a lump of bronze, and it has been shaped into a sculpture in order to function, as my laptop has been assembled into an order...
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