Explain What Aristotle Meant by the Final Cause. 25 Marks

Topics: Causality, Aristotle, Universe Pages: 3 (1073 words) Published: March 23, 2013
Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and empiricist, he believed in sense experience, as well as student to Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. Aristotle understood that the world around us is transient, impermanent. He believed that everything can be explained with his four causes and in order for humanity to understand the world we needed to use them. The four causes are Aristotle’s way of explaining the existence of an object, with the ‘final cause’ being the most important aspect of his theory as it gave the best explanation of an object. The final cause is the theory that all objects have an ultimate purpose for their existence, an important part of what it is.

The route to the final cause is as follows, the first cause is the material cause, it refers to the matter of an object, it’s substance and room for change, so the material cause of a chair would be plastic and metal. The next cause is the efficient cause, this is what caused it, the agent that brought it about, for a chair this would be the manufacturer. Then there is the formal cause, the characteristics of an object, therefore the formal cause of a chair would be curved plastic seat with metal legs. Finally Aristotle stated the final cause, the purpose of something, it’s ultimate reasoning, and the chair’s purpose would be to allow someone to sit on it. Aristotle suggested that humans had the greatest potential of all things as part of their telos is to understand the world, learning the form and purpose of everything in the world.

In addition, Aristotle brings in the concept of actuality and potentiality into his argument. Aristotle believed everything has potential and when it reached it’s potential end becomes something different it reaches it’s actuality. This then applies to the concept of the final cause, if everything has a purpose and, in the case of animate objects, realises it’s purpose, it will inspire itself to reach it’s potential and fulfill it’s function. Therefore...
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